“We’re confident in these guys, the guys that are out there,” said Jeff Skinner, whose goal at 4:25 of the third period gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead. “It’s some big shoes to fill. We’ve got to sort of those minutes collectively. But we have the confidence we can get the job done. Obviously, we didn’t get the result. But there’s a lot of good things and over the course of 82 games, these are kinds of kinds of things you want to build on.”
With Dahlin out, rookie Owen Power took the mantle as Buffalo’s ice time leader in the game. Power, who entered leading NHL rookies in ice time at 22:41 per game, piled up 28:14 in this one while playing with Clague. Lyubushkin took Dahlin’s spot alongside Jacob Bryson. The third pair of Pilut with Casey Fitzgerald remained intact.
“This is why you sign extra guys over the summer, for these moments,” Granato said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a barrage of injuries specifically to the defensive group which is a little bit uncanny but you just deal with it.”
Here are some observations on the game:
1. Power-ful performance
Power had two assists, a plus one rating and six hits in the game, his first against the Tampa Bay lineup and veteran in front of the usual sellout crowd of 19,092.
“The environment did not affect him one one bit,” Granato said of Power, who played 24:43 in Carolina. “And I can’t say that for every guy on the team. It’s just amazing his performance tonight.”
“It was kind of a good challenge for me to do that and hopefully we can build off of that,” Power said. “A couple of their goals came off real good chances for us and they kind of came back down the ice and put them in the back of the net. They’re obviously a real real experienced team and hard to play against.”
2. On the scoresheet
The Sabres went toe to toe with Tampa, twice coming back to tie the game in the first 40 minutes and taking a 3-2 lead on Skinner’s stuffer off an Alex Tuch pass from the edge of the crease at 4:25 of the third period . Zemgus Girgensons took his own rebound off the back boards to make it 1-1 at 16:24 of the first period and Casey Mittelstadt’s mid-air tip-in of a Power wrist shot at 8:34 of the second made it 2-2 .
Nick Paul and Brayden Point scored the first two goals for Tampa, the latter also on a power play. Former Buffalo draft choice Brandon Hagel forged a 3-3 tie at 7:40 of the third, jamming home the puck from in tight after initially fanning on a shot.
“We lost that game because of difference in experience, not skill,” Granato said.
3. In the nets
It was a strong showing from Buffalo’s Comrie, who made several top saves against the Lightning’s marquee players. He foiled Point in the second period on a spin-o-rama move and spent the middle period thrice frustrating Kucherov and stopping Hagel on a short-handed breakaway. But the Perbix goal, an unscreened shot, irked him.
“The guys played great tonight. Our D-corps was awesome. We battled really, really hard and we deserved to get least a point tonight,”
Comrie said. “I let in a goal with less than five minutes left and I can’t do that in a 3-3 game. If they put in perfect shots, kudos to them. But that’s a save I can make and a save that I want to make.”