Lightning 2, Sabers 1 SO – The Buffalo News


TAMPA – Surprise, surprise. So, after a series of three straight defeats against teams that did not play in the playoffs, the Buffalo Sabers faced off against the NHL's top players on Thursday night.

But even the unexpected answer still has not produced a victory.

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov scored in the shootout to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 win over the Sabers at Amalie Stadium. Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt were arrested for the Sabers.

With this loss, the Sabers (28-24-8) lost their fourth straight game (0-3-1) while Tampa Bay was eighth in a row. The Lightning did not lose in regulation in February (10-0-2). They improved to 47-11-4, pushing their points total to the top of the NHL at 98. They are ahead for 129, which would be three less than the Detroit record in 1995-1996 with 132.

Get the call: Carter Hutton did a remarkable job in goal for the Sabers, making 39 saves in a game that he had to play as a substitute. Nobody was as important as the breakaway in which he defeated defenseman Victor Hedman, winner of the Norris Trophy, at the last minute of play.

The Sabers' plans changed when Linus Ullmark suffered an undisclosed minor injury during the team's optional morning training session. The team announced the injury a few minutes before the pre-game warm-up and Ullmark served as a substitute for Hutton.

Opening of the notation: The Sabers scored the first goal of the game at 18:13 of the first period. Rasmus Dahlin scored his seventh goal of the year with a shot from the left circle bouncing off the goal and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay. Jack Eichel earned his 45th assist of the season and tied his career record of last year with his 64th point.

Bolts even becomeTampa Bay capitalized on a Buffalo mistake to tie the match while Nikita Kucherov scored a goal at home, while Tyler Johnson paused at 2: 1 at 11:10. The play began when Evan Rodrigues' backhand pass to Zach Bogosian was in Buffalo's defender's feet and bounced, sending Tampa Bay back to the break. Dahlin was the only man at the back and could not block the Johnson Pass.

Spirit of 100: Kucherov's goal was his 30th of the season and gave the NHL scoring leader 100 points. This makes him the first player in Lightning's history to have multiple seasons of 100 points. It also made him the first Tampa scorer to score more than 30 goals and more than 70 assists in the same season. Kucherov tries to join Hall of Fame member Martin St. Louis as the only Lightning member to win the Art Ross Trophy as a league leader.

Another historical footnote: Kucherov became the first NHL player to score 100 points in 62 games or less since Mario Lemieux in 61 games for Pittsburgh in 1996-97.

Good job on the PK: The Sabers eliminated all three penalties against them, which is no small deal against a Tampa Bay power play that scored 30.2% of its chances. It's leading the standings this year and would be the fourth highest of all time if that figure holds up until the end of the season.

To make a break: Rick Jeanneret, Sabers player, will remain for the period of his annual vacation. He should be out for the next six games and return to the mic for the March 7 game in Chicago. As usual when Jeanneret is not at a game at home or on the road, Dan Dunleavy takes over alongside analyst Rob Ray.

Following: The Sabers had to return to Buffalo immediately after the match and train Friday at HarborCenter. They will host the Washington Capitals, defending Stanley Cup champions, for the only time of the season, Saturday at 13h. This will be the last game before the NHL's Monday trading deadline.


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