The Bolts battled hard, but they lost a 4-2 decision to a desperate Sabres team tonightofficially surrendering the Southeast Division title to the Washington Capitals. After taking an early 1-0 lead, the Lightning would give up 3 straight goals to the Sabres, who led 3-1 going into the third period. Tampa was able to tie it up early in the 3rd, but they couldn’t complete the comeback, and Buffalo got the insurance goal with 14 seconds left to seal the deal.
While not quite the redemption game they were looking for, Tampa can certainly be content with this effort. They were gritty, more than doubled up on the Sabres in hits, and Ryan Malone’s goal to open the scoring was exactly the kind of goal they need come postseason.
This was do or die for the Sabres, and Thomas Vanek’s hat trick put them over the edge. Whenever a team is desperate while the other team is resting players (like Eric Brewer), there are going to be games like this. The important thing is that the Lightning didn’t throw in the towel. They didn’t give up, and they didn’t break down like the last time they played Buffalo. The win brought the Sabres within one point of clinching a playoff birth.
Enroth, who has been playing extraordinarily well in Miller’s absence, stonewalled the Lightning. They got good chances, but it was very difficult to get one passed the unknown tender.
In “keep his face pretty” news, Lecavalier (who scored the second Lightning goal tonight) decided to go with a visor from now on. He debuted it tonight, and he sounded pretty freaked out about the whole incident. He doesn’t want to be seriously injured, so he is making the change now. Good for him, I hope more make the same choice.
1st: Thomas Vanek
2nd: Tim Connelly
3rd: Chris Butler
Highlights courtesy of NHL.com