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At the Horn: Lightning 6 - Sabres 4

Sheary records 3 points, Eichel scores 1st shorthanded goal of career in loss

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

In the final game of the decade, the Buffalo Sabres let a three-goal lead slip away in their 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Buffalo led 4-1 midway through the second period, but the Lightning rallied back with five unanswered goals in a New Year's Eve victory at KeyBank Center.

Conor Sheary recorded a goal and two assists for Buffalo. Marcus Johansson, Jimmy Vesey and Jack Eichel also scored for the Sabres.

Eichel, on the penalty kill, scored the first shorthanded goal of his career when he bobbed and weaved and shook the Tampa Bay defense on his way to a backhand shot that should end up on everyone's Best of 2019 lists. 

Linus Ullmark made 21 saves.

What happened

The Sabres jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Sheary's one-timer beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with 57 seconds remaining in the first period. Buffalo doubled their advantage when Johansson scored 2:12 into the second period. 

The Lightning earned their first goal with a power-play marker by Ondrej Palat at the 7-minute mark of the second but just Vesey restored Buffalo's two-goal lead just 1:12 later. 

Then it was time for Eichel's dazzling display 9:56 into the second when he and Curtis Lazar pushed the play up ice while on the penalty kill. That goal made it 4-1, but the three-goal lead wouldn't last. 

The Lightning closed out the second period with a pair of goals. First, Alex Killorn scored on the power play with 6:03 remaining and then Tyler Johnson scored on a breakaway with 3:05 left. 

Kevin Shattenkirk then tied it up 6:20 into the third period on a deflected shot. Killorn then delivered the go-ahead goal 8:08 in the period. 

Buffalo came close to tying it on a power play with under 8 minutes to play and had another opportunity with 4:18 to go, but the Lightning penalty kill held strong on both occasions. The Sabres power play finished 0-for-4. 

Anthony Cirelli added an empty-net goal with 2.2 seconds remaining. 


What it means

Buffalo is now 17-17-7 on the season and 11-5-3 at home. 

Sheary tied his career high by recording his fifth career three-point game. His last three-point effort came on March 1, 2019 vs. Pittsburgh (2+1).

Dalton Smith made his NHL debut. The 27-year-old forward skated 1:26 on four shifts. He signed a one-year deal with Buffalo on Monday. 

Roll the highlight film

Jack Eichel, everyone:

Video: TBL@BUF: Eichel dazzles with backhanded SHG

Coming up

The Sabres are back at it on Thursday when they host the Edmonton Oilers at KeyBank Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage on MSG starting at 6:30. Tickets are on sale now.

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