STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - When the Buffalo Sabres look back on the 2019 NHL Global Series, they'll view it as an amazing experience to help grow the game of hockey, but also as a missed opportunity to gain some ground in the Atlantic Division standings.
Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Jack Eichel scored for Buffalo on Saturday, but the Sabres fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. Carter Hutton made 35 saves. The Lightning also won the first game of the series on Friday, meaning the Sabres are going home without any points on the trip.
"It was a great experience. It was very unique and a once-in-a-lifetime or whatever you want to call it, but we just lost four points to a divisional opponent so not too much of a success," Eichel said.
Video: BUF Recap: Olofsson scores in 5-3 loss to Lightning
Head coach Ralph Krueger echoed those sentiments.
"It was outstanding in every way except for our results," Krueger said. "The hospitality was felt by the team the whole time we were here. It was a wonderful experience that we'll look back on with pleasure once these games become lessons that make us stronger in the future."
The Sabres wanted to get off to a better start than they did Friday night, and they were able to, scoring 9:30 into the contest thanks to a shot from Reinhart, who scored twice on Friday.
Video: POSTGAME: Krueger
Video: POSTGAME: Eichel
Special teams ultimately decided the game, with Tampa going 2-for-3 on the power play and Buffalo unable to convert on either of their two chances.
The Lightning tied the game on a deflection from Patrick Maroon in front while on the man advantage with 2:58 left in the period. Tampa was able to take advantage of the situation again early in the second.
To open the middle frame, the Sabres poured on the pressure and had the Lightning hemmed into their own zone. Then, while cycling the puck, Marcus Johansson collided with Matthieu Joseph in the middle of the ice and was called for interference 1:51 in.
"I don't know what to do. I can't just disappear," Johansson said. "Honestly, to me, they'd been out there for two minutes - the guy kind of half jumped into me and went down. I don't know where to go."
Seven seconds later, Victor Hedman drilled one into the back of the net to give the Lightning a lead they never relinquished.
"It was again, a moment that shifted the game away from us," Krueger said. "It's questionable, for sure, but I probably shouldn't say more than that other than there was a collision of two players moving through the same space and Marcus Johansson was the bigger and stronger of the two and was punished for that."
Let's hear from the Swedes
Video: BUF@TBL: Hedman, Dahlin, Johansson receive ovations
Video: BUF@TBL: Kronwall drops the puck for Global Series
Video: POSTGAME: Johansson
Video: POSTGAME: Dahlin
Video: POSTGAME: Olofsson
Video: Linus Ullmark's Taste of Sweden
Getting pucks on net
The Sabres ended up outshooting the Lightning 43-40 in the game, an uptick from their outing on Friday. However, they're not finding the back of the net as often as they'd like. It's led to a 1-6-1 stretch in their last seven games after opening the season 8-1-1 in their first 10. They've also lost four in a row in regulation and Buffalo does not have a power-play goal to show for in that time.
"You saw at the beginning of the year when we were having a lot of success, our special teams were coming up big for us," Eichel said. "Right now, it seems like the power play might be a little snake bitten.
"The penalty kill, it seems like everything is maybe bouncing against us. I really think we're working hard. Guys are blocking shots. It's not for a lack of effort or grit. Guys are stepping in front of one-timers so it's not that.
"Maybe it's a little bit on our plate of just executing. Our coach has such a good game plan for us every night with our penalty kill, and same with the power play."
The Sabres won't play again until Thursday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at KeyBank Center. They're scheduled to return to practice on Wednesday with two days off after a long travel day set for Sunday.
What can Buffalo take away from Saturday's match as they head into next week?
"I think build on what we did today, honestly," Johansson said. "I really felt like we played a good game. It's an unbelievable hockey team we played and 5-on-5, it felt like tonight, we were the better team."