After spending time before the game reading up on the match up between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres, it would have seemed rather obvious which team was the favorite. Buffalo had been on a 4 game losing streak, and had just one in seven games prior. The offense was bad, the defense worse, and Ryan Miller was average. The Lightning, although not having a much easier time than Buffalo lately, was statistically better than Buffalo. The Lightning have the most goals scored in the league, and are nearly unbeatable when playing average defense because of the offensive prowess. However, all expectations going into the game were completely extinguished by the time the score went final. After the smoke cleared, the scoreboard read Sabres 2 Lightning 1.
This game was a key one for the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the team has a challenging road trip ahead of it. However, the Lightning would go on and drop a low scoring game to the last place Buffalo Sabres. It was a strange game for the Lightning, as they threw puck after puck at goal tender Ryan Miller but could not hit the back of the net. The game looked to be a promising one however to start for the Lightning. Steven Stamkos put a rebound from a Teddy Purcell shot into the net with just 1:24 gone in the first period. That was all the Lightning would manage however. About halfway through the first frame, the Sabres would tie the game on a sloppy play. Mathieu Garon was caught out of the net after the puck was turned over and a shot missed the net. Sabres forward Cody Hodgson was able to wrap the puck around to the empty side of the net just before Garon was able to recover and stuffed it into the net for a 1-1 tie.
The Lightning would then get 5 straight power plays in the remainder of the first period and throughout the second period. None of them were converted, including a 5 on 3 chance that was not taken advantage of. Ryan Miller remained the sharpest player on the Sabres’ squad, stopping Stamkos rather easily on his patented one timer from the left circle twice within about 90 seconds during a Lightning power play early in the second. Stamkos would then be robbed of a goal yet again by Miller, as he camped out in front of the crease and tipped a Purcell feed towards the net that was deflected away by the net minder. Cory Conacher picked up the rebound and fired a shot onto Miller but was also denied. Shortly after that, a series of turnover led to Garon once again being hung out to dry. Garon was caught sliding out of the net after a shot missed the net (not unlike what happened during the first goal). This time, he was able to recover and stop a chance at the opposite side of the net, but was left out of the net again after the effort. Tyler Myers found the puck and fired it into an open net for the 2-1 lead just 52 seconds into the third. The Lightning would get another power play, but would miss on that one as well. The Lightning missed on 6 straight power plays in the game, which left them at 0 and 6 on the night.
Overall, the most credit given to the Sabres’ win is pinned to Ryan Miller, as he repeatedly stopped the top scorer in the league Steven Stamkos multiple times, along with the rest of the high powered Lightning offense. The Sabres finally got good goal tending along with a few good bounces, and were able to escape a sold out Tampa Bay Times Forum with a tight 2-1 win. The Lightning led the game in shots with a 31-20 advantage, but Miller was able to stop all but one of the 31 shots. The score might as well have read Team Miller 2 Tampa Bay Lightning 1.
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