Tonight at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, the Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their second win of the season as they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in overtime.
There were both positives and negatives coming out of tonight’s game. We’ll take a look at those now.
The scoring may not have started up right away in the first period, the tensions certainly did. At 3:22 into the game, Buffalo left wing Marcus Foligno almost took penalty box the head off of Lightning center Valtteri Filppula.
As a result, Foligno drew the ire of Bolts defenseman Radko Gudas. After the gloves were dropped and the dust cleared, both men were awarded fighting majors and sent to the box.
Just over 2 minutes later, Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is sent to the box for 2 minutes for Interference on Steven Stamkos. This would give the Lightning the first Power Play of the game. Unfortunately, they found themselves unable to capitalize.
Believe it or not, the fighting didn’t end there.
Just after the halfway point in the period, Buffalo right wing Patrick Kaleta would get all up in the face of Steven Stamkos; however, the refs intervened; no gloves were dropped, and no penalties were assessed.
To tell you the truth, I am surprised that this didn’t escalate further. Usually when someone really gets in the face of one of your main guys, someone usually gets a little froggy.
At 12:38 in the period, the gloves would come off again; this time between Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Sabres center Steve Ott.It would appear that Hedman took exception to what he believed to be a late hit by Ott.
Just in case you have an issue believing that Hedman actually participated in a fight, here is a look at the short scrap between Hedman and Ott.
When the gloves were dropped a poor unfortunate ref happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and almost got taken out in the process. (Let’s be real though, we all would have laughed at least a little.) Both men were handed 5 minute majors for Fighting.
As the final seconds ticked off of the clock in the first period, Sabres left wing Tyler Ennis was sent off for 2 minutes for Holding Gudas, which would put the Lightning on the Power Play at the beginning of the second period.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, when the second period started up, they again found themselves unable to capitalize on the Power Play, putting them at 0-2 for the night on the PP.
Just over halfway through the second period, the Sabres would draw first blood when center Cody Hodgson fired a wrist shot past a downed Ben Bishop, and put the Sabres on top for the first time tonight.
Not even thirty seconds later, the gloves would drop for the third time this evening. This time, it was Lightning left wing Ryan Malone and Sabres defenseman Mike Weber. As usual, both were rewarded for their efforts with a 5 minute Fighting major each.
Just over 2 minutes later, the Bolts would battle back. Tyler Johnson would fire off a wrist shot past Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth off of a beautiful spin around pass from Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat.
It truly was a beautiful play worthy of a second look.
After the goal from Johnson, the Sabres would find themselves with back-to-back power play opportunities. The first came at 14:47 when Radko Gudas was sent to the box for 2 minutes for Roughing Steve Ott. The Sabres were unable to capitalize on this opportunity.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, the second opportunity is not quite the same story.
At 17:11, Lightning defensemen Eric Brewer is sent to the box for 2 minutes for Hooking. During this time, Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain was able to fire a wrist shot past Bishop with the assists from Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek.
This would put the Sabres back on top for the second time tonight.
The penalties would continue in the third period.
The first of which was handed out at 3:10 in the period when Radko Gudas was sent to the box for 2 minutes for Interference on Drew Stafford. Thankfully for the Bolts, the Sabres weren’t able to capitalize on that opportunity.
Just over 2 minutes later, we would have the controversy of the evening. Sabres captain Thomas Vanek was called for 2 minutes for High Sticking Lightning captain Martin St. Louis. Here is where the controversy comes in. The whistle was supposedly blown late on the penalty. During said time, the Sabres were able to find the back of the net; however, because the whistle had already been blown, the goal was rendered no good.
The Sabres were under the impression that it was the Lightning who were being called, and the Lightning were under the opposite assumption. Unfortunately for the Sabres, the referees would side with the Lightning. (Don’t all die of a heart attack at the same time now. I know it’s a shock.)
If there is anything that I have learned from my many years of watching hockey, it is this…no matter how much you disagree with a call, nothing you can do is going to change the referee’s mind. Even though admittedly, yelling and screaming usually makes me feel better, it still doesn’t change the call. So let’s move on.
When the final buzzer sounded on the third period of play, we still did not have a victor. The score remainder 2-2, and thus forced the overtime period. This is the second game of the season for the Lightning that has gone into extra time. So far, it seems to be working out for them.
This time, the overtime period would not last very long. After a flurry of attempts on the net, the one that made it between the pipes was a backhand shot from center Alex Killorn with the assists from defenseman Eric Brewer and center Valtteri Filppula.
In case you missed it, or if you just want to see it again, here is the shot that ended the game thanks to Killer Killorn.
There are plenty of things to take away from tonight’s game; some are good, some…not so much.
On the good side, the Lightning outshot the Sabres the entirety of the game. At the end of the game, the Shots on Goal were at 34-23 in favor of the Lightning. The Lightning also won out in the faceoff circle tonight with 32-26 of faceoffs won.
One of the negatives that I saw tonight was the overabundance of unnecessary penalties.
The Lightning have simply got to get these silly penalties under control. I can understand some of the fights, as players are standing up for either themselves or one of their teammates, but the Hooking, Interference, and such…those have no meaning, and give the other team opportunity after opportunity with the man advantage.
This cannot continue if they hope to be successful going forward this season.
On the positive side, the team is adapting to a more physical style of play. I think it will be important going forward this season that the Bolts make it known that they are not going to be pushed and shoved like they have in the past and bullied into making mistakes.
As I said before, this is the second game this season that has gone into extra time. So far, it seems to be working out for the Bolts. There is a part of me that would like to be spared the usual “overtime panic attack” that usually ensues when the buzzer sounds; however, 2 points is 2 points no matter how you look at it.
I hope that the Bolts can keep this momentum rolling into Thursday. It is never too early to start putting wins under your belt; especially when you are in a new division with brand new challenges ahead of them this season.
What are your takeaways from tonight’s matchup between the Bolts and the Sabres. What do you think the Bolts will need to do to keep the momentum rolling into the Home Opener on Thursday? Let’s discuss this and more in the comments below.