NHL Game Night: 10-8-13 Lightning at Sabres
Lightning win their first mini-segment of the season.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory.
11:09 BUF Hodgson (1), (Vanek, McBain)(PP)
13:35 TB Johnson (1), (Hedman, Palat)
18:34 BUF McBain (1), (Hodgson, Vanek)(PP)
5:43 TB Purcell (2), (Malone, St Louis)(PP)
1:50 TB Killorn (1), (Brewer, Filppula)
Alex Killorn was the game's second star. Kudos to Buffalo's media for the homer choice to take 2 star selections in a losing cause. Kudos also to NBC Sports Network scrunch-faced-creep Keith Jones for calling the Lightning a "weak sister" team after the game. Keep sleeping on the Lightning while they gain experience and settle in. It's all good.
Buffalo's not good, so the Lightning needed to get the 2 points and needed to look pretty good doing it. And, for the most part, I thought they did. They outshot Buffalo 34-23 and had the lion's share of the scoring chances. The defense was more loosey goosey than in the first two games, and I'm sure Cooper will remind his young team not to play down to his competition by letting off their defensive system. Still, 2-1-0 to complete this murderous opening road trip is really good, and now they get 7 straight at home for their second mini-segment of the season. It's not an easy slate of opponents, overall, but if they come out of that over .500 then they'll stay in the hunt. My theory, for this season, is if the Lightning are in the hunt in early January they're going to be dangerous. Cooper will have everyone fully programmed and ready to rock by that point, and they'll be a threat. Getting through the first half of the season alive with such an inexperienced team is the trick. 3 games in, so far so good. Ben Bishop looking solid helps that out a lot. A LOT.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 9 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:35. His ice time went up with Sustr getting a night off, and I thought his game was his worst of the first 3 of the season. I like that he stuck up for Filppula in the First Period, but I thought he got a little lost at time in his d-zone and got de-jocked for a scoring chance at one point. He'll have games like this while he figures out how to be an NHLer.
Tyler Johnson had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots and 62% on draws in 14:29. In case you didn't believe Bolt Prospects when we said he had an NHL laser shot, please gander at the tape from his goal tonight. Zap.
Killorn had the winner and was +1 with 4 shots in 18:14. The line shuffling and lesser opponent allowed Alex to possess the puck more than in the first 2 games, and he paid the price to win it in overtime. Took a hit to get it in the zone and then showed ridiculous patience to switch to his backhand on the eventual finish. I think there might be some Chris Drury in Killorn. He scores big goals.
Ondrej Palat had a helper and was +1 with 4 shots and 3 hits in 14:08. That's the most comfortable Palat's looked so far this year. It helps when you're playing a bunch of the same guys to played against in Norfolk and Syracuse on the Sabres roster.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 8:53. Labrie and the 4th line were again, period-to-period, the most consistent Lightning line. You can count on Labrie, Thompson, and Crombeen, despite their athletic shortcomings, to generate forecheck and put some pressure on the opposing defense. When your 4th line can accomplish that for you, it's such a huge asset for a team because you don't have to lean on the other lines as much on nights they don't have it as much. Evidently Buffalo was chirping at Labrie all night about his skating or whatever. Hate to tell Buffalo, but Labrie's line was playing in their end all night long. So if Labrie sucks and his skating sucks, guess how much you clowns in Buffalo must stink if Nacho and his crew keep pinning you down in your end? Success is the best revenge.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.