BUFFALO, N.Y. — Another third-period, power-play-fueled comeback lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 overtime victory to cap a successful three-game road trip to open the season.
Alex Killorn scored the winner 1:50 into the extra session to cap off the comeback in front of an announced crowd of 18,243 at First Niagara Center as Tampa Bay opened the season with two victories in the three games.
Tyler Johnson and Teddy Purcell also scored for the Lightning, while Ben Bishop stopped 21 shots. Cody Hodgson and Mike Weber scored power-play goals for the Sabres, who got 31 saves from Jhonas Enroth.
After dropping the season opener in Boston, the Lightning picked up consecutive victories in overtime, and for the second consecutive game scored a third-period power-play goal.
“It's always tough to win on the road, especially with the starts we've had, having to come back in a couple of games,” said Purcell, who also had the tying goal in Saturday's shootout win at Chicago. “We dug ourselves some holes, but we showed resiliency and character, and it's good to see that early on.”
Killorn notched his first goal of the season, picking up a lost puck in front of Eric Brewer, skating to the opposite side of the slot and beating Enroth, who was down and trying to recover.
“I had to make the read and realize that I would have a better opportunity if I held it for a second,” Killorn said. “So it worked out. It was a little bit of a defensive breakdown for them, I was just lucky enough to be able to sell the shot.”
The news wasn't all good as Tampa Bay lost forward Tom Pyatt, who was making his season debut, to a broken collarbone in the third period.
After a scoreless first period, the second period ended pretty much the same way the first did, with Tampa Bay holding the puck for extended periods. The dominant possession time resulted in the Sabres going 14 minutes, 24 seconds between shots, extending from the first period until the early stages of the second. But just like the first period, Tampa Bay was unable to take advantage of its opportunities while Enroth made some solid saves.
Tampa Bay then started to find penalty trouble that allowed Buffalo to build momentum and grab the lead.
With Pierre-Cedric Labrie in the penalty box at 10:19 for hooking, the Sabres opened the scoring when Hodgson found a loose puck at the side of the net at 11:09.
The Lightning came come back with some quality scoring chances. Just 37 seconds after Sami Salo rang a shot off the post, Johnson pulled Tampa Bay even, taking a pass from Victor Hedman to the right wing, where he drilled a top-shelf shot at 13:35 for his first goal of the season.
But more penalty trouble put the Lightning on the defensive again late in the period. Brewer took a hooking call on Kevin Porter, who was behind the defense.
The Sabres were again able to captialize on the opportunity. Weber was able to find a seam and fired a wrist shot past Bishop at 18:34 for a second Buffalo power-play goal and a 2-1 lead.
“You look at the shot clock, and yes there (was a disparity), but I was more or less looking at the fact we didn't give up a whole ton of chances and Bishop stood tall,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And our penalty kill, we had chances to get pucks out and we didn't, and ultimately it cost us a little bit.”
Buffalo thought it had grabbed a 3-1 lead, but a goal was waved off for a high sticking call on Vanek, though it appeared Matt Carle struck himself with his own stick.
The result was a Tampa Bay power play at 5:21, and 22 seconds into the man advantage, the Lightning were able to find the tying goal off the stick of Purcell, who took a pass down low from Ryan Malone and quickly put the puck through the five-hole to pull Tampa Bay even at 5:43.