Pominville lifts Sabres past NHL-best Lightning in overtime
By ERIK ERLENDSSON
Mar. 01, 2018
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres long ago fell out of playoff contention. They still might be a factor in the postseason.
Jason Pominville scored on a power play at 1:26 of overtime to give the Sabres a 2-1 victory over the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
Pominville beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with a one-timer from the left circle off a feed from Rasmus Ristolainen.
Evan Rodrigues tied it for Buffalo in the third, and Chad Johnson stopped 21 shots.
The victory was the second in a row against Tampa Bay in the past two weeks. The Sabres, last in the Eastern Conference, also knocked off second-place Boston Bruins twice in February.
"Everybody really played good defensively," Buffalo coach Phil Housley said. "I've got to hand it to our guys, they really played hard and took away time and space against a really good hockey team."
Cory Conacher scored for Tampa Bay, which saw a four-game winning streak come to an end, and Vasilevskiy made 32 saves.
With a point in the standings for the overtime loss, the Lightning became the first team to reach 90 points this season.
"We'll take the points where we can get them, but we didn't really deserve the two points tonight," Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We had good spots in the game but against a team that's not in the playoffs and (if) we want to stay atop our division and the league we need the same effort we had against Toronto (on Monday) with the emotion and desperation and it just wasn't there tonight."
With NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov out with an undisclosed upper-body injury, the Lightning struggled to generate offensive chances and finished with 18 even-strength shots on goal.
"There's one team that looked like they're getting close to the playoffs and preparing to go to the postseason, and one team looked like they weren't," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "So take that from there, which team was which."
Tampa Bay opened the scoring with 1:57 left in the first period. The puck deflected off the stick of Conacher in front right in to Johnson, but Conacher quickly recovered the rebound and pulled the puck back to his forehand to find the vacated side of the net.
Rodrigues tied it with 8:13 left in regulation. After Andrej Sustr fumbled the puck along the boards and lost the puck, Jason Pominville passed off to fed Rodrigues, who lifted the puck to the far post past Vasilevskiy.
"I think we had all 20 guys pulling in the right direction," Rodrigues said. "We didn't have anyone cheating on the wrong side of the puck. We stuck with our game plan. As the game wore we didn't try cheating for offense. We all stuck to the defensive side of the puck and when you do that you wear the other team down and you get rewarded."
NOTES: The U.S. women's Olympic champion hockey team was honored before the game. The team held residency camp in nearby Wesley Chapel. ... Buffalo RW Kyle Okposo missed the game to be with his wife while she gave birth to a daughter Tuesday. Okposo is expected to join the team in time for Friday's game at Florida. ... The Sabres called up C Seth Griffin from Rochester of the American Hockey League. ... Tampa Bay recalled RW Michael Bournival from Syracuse of the AHL. ... Tampa Bay's streak of scoring at least three goals in a game was snapped at 10.
Lightning: At Dallas on Thursday night.
Sabres: At Florida on Friday night.