Game 55: Back to The Cellar

After a nice run of games, the Sabres lost one in regulation in the First Niagara Center by a score of 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.


1st Period: Buffalo was outplaying Tampa Bay early. Through the first five minutes, the Lightning struggled to establish any sort of puck possession. The Sabres on the otherhand were doing that pretty well. Like last night, scoring chances were pretty hard for them to come by though, despite that. Vanek took a slapshot that seemed to hurt Mathieu Garon’s glove-hand while the Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta line got some traffic and pucks in front of the Lightning goalie, but to no avail. It took almost 12 minutes for Tampa Bay to establish a decent puck possession shift. Miller and the Sabres D were up to the task of keeping them off the scoreboard.

The Sabres started getting sloppy in their own end from about the 7:00 to 4:00 mark, giving the Lightning more chances to score. Once again, no goals resulted from the flurry. Gaustad had a point-blank chance from a rebound from Gerbe’s shot with about 2:30 left in the 1st. He shot it right into Garon’s pad though instead of elevating the puck. Ehrhoff took the game’s first penalty for hooking Vinny LeCavalier in front of the Sabres night, giving the Lightning the game’s first power play with 1:42 remaining. Miller robbed Stamkos with the right pad on the shortside. That was the only really good chance they had though and the period would end in a scoreless tie with 18 seconds left in the Ehrhoff penalty. The theme of the period was turnovers for Buffalo. That needed to get cleaned up.


2nd Period: The remainder of the Ehrhoff penalty got killed off and Buffalo even got a quick scoring chance in the first minute of play. Unfortunately, they also got another penalty in the first minute of play. Leopold accidently got his stick caught in Marty St. Louis’ skate and tripped him after his chance on Garon. No scoring chances or goals resulted from the Lighting power play and the score remained scoreless. Downie and Stamkos had a 2-on-1, but Myers did a great job defending it only giving Purcell one option: to shoot the puck. Miller handled the shot with no issue.

Tampa Bay would draw first blood in the game with about 12:30 left. After a point shot, Steve Downie was inexplicably left all by himself by Ehrhoff and Myers, allowing him to stop the puck and slide it by Miller. They would get another 2-0n-1, thanks to a turnover in the neutral zone by Ehrhoff and Pominville. Teddy Purcell gave Steven Stamkos the perfect pass and he smoked it past Miller. Somehow, Myers forgot how to play a 2-on-1 after he played the previous one perfectly. Myers almost sprung Pominville for a breakaway, but the pass got broken up. The last minute of the period was pretty helter-skelter. There were odd-man rushes galore for both teams. There was no change in score though. The Lighting had a 2-0 lead going into the 3rd. Through two periods, Buffalo only had 13 shots on goal.


3rd Period: It took awhile, but Buffalo started to show some signs of life early on. Gaustad, Leino, Kaleta, Sekera, and Weber all combined on a great cycle for a shift. Vanek made a great backcheck to help stop the LeCavalier breakaway. Miller pokechecked the puck away from Vinny on the play. The Sabres would finally score their first goal with 12:30 left in the 3rd. Vanek carried the puck in and his drop-pass bounced off a skate to Pominville who beat Garon shortside along the ice to cut the Lightning lead in half. Just under the halfway-mark of the period, the refs missed a blatant holding penalty. Leino was the victim on the play. Kassian got an awesome feed from Sekera and had a wide-open net to redirect the puck into, but he whiffed and then proceeded to take a penalty behind the net on Victor Hedman. I didn’t see the part where Kassian supposedly slashed him though. Mikkelson hit the post with a point shot, but that was as close as the Lightning got to a goal. Ehrhoff made a great play to negate an icing with 5:27 left. Garon made by far his toughest save of the night when he robbed Pominville of a sure goal while he was out of position.

The Sabres got their first power play of the game with 4:33 left in the game after Stafford got tripped up. They did nothing with their chance though and it remained 2-1.  Miller was pulled with about 1:30 left. Ehrhoff cranked one off the pipe shortly after that. That was as close they got tying the game though as the Sabres went on to lose and drop to 14th place.



-Where was the puck-support?  The forwards seemed to have very little interest in doing that after the 1st period.

-Turnovers killed them tonight.

-Why is Ehrhoff continuing to play on the left side? It played a pretty big role in both Lightning goals.

-Uh, shoot the puck. You’re facing Mathieu Garon, not Patrick Roy.

-I was disappointed that the lines got completely jumbled after their good run of play in these past few games.

-You can’t play a half period of hockey and expect to win a game Buffalo.

-Sekera was the most impressive defenseman on the ice.

-The refs sure had the whistle in their pockets on some blatant penalties taken by Tampa.


Game Scoresheet