BUFFALO, N.Y. – Scoring his first career overtime goal to break a 2-2 tie, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn netted the game-winner against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center Tuesday night. The overtime victory was their second straight win of the 2013-14 season, as the Bolts finished their season-opening road trip 2-1-0.
“We wanted to come out here and get more points than games played,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “We did that, so we’re happy with ourselves.”
Starting netminder Ben Bishop earned his second win of the season, stopping 21 of 23 Buffalo shots. The contest was his second victory in as many starts.
At almost the midway point of the game, the Sabres broke the scoreless tie, by dishing out the first goal of the night at 11:09 of the second. Thomas Vanek took the initial shot from the blueline, which went wide of Bolts’ netminder Bishop’s net. Cody Hodgson picked up the deflection and managed the tally on the man-advantage for the 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson returned the favor two minutes later, however, as Victor Hedman finished a 180-turn down the slot by feeding a pass to Johnson. Johnson sent a nice wrister top shelf on Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth to lock the game at 1-1. Hedman and Ondrej Palat were credited with the helpers.
Frustration seemed to kick-in on the Lightning’s side though, as the Sabres regained the lead by the second stanza’s end by capitalizing on their second power-play opportunity. After getting an assist on Buffalo’s first goal, blueliner Jamie McBain netted his first goal of the season from the point for a 2-1 edge. Going 0-for-13 heading into tonight, the Sabres were 2-for-3 on the man-advantage after McBain’s goal.
Yet the Bolts’ late game heroics struck again Tuesday. Looking like Buffalo would take a 3-1 lead, a Sabres goal suffered a late whistle and was called off. Vanek was then summoned to the penalty box, as a delayed high-sticking penalty was called on the Sabres. Twenty seconds later, forward Teddy Purcell scored his second goal of the season for the Lightning on the power-play to tie the game at two and force overtime.
“I think the air went out of the crowd because we scored so quick after the [delayed penalty] incident,” Cooper said. “I think that was a big turning point. It was a late whistle, so I think that’s what got everyone up in arms, but the way that it played out was a big momentum swing for us.”
In the extra period Killorn landed the puck coming down the slot, but held off for the perfect amount of time, before closing out the win with a backhander past Buffalo’s Enroth for the come-from-behind 3-2 win against a winless Sabres team.
“The puck kind of rolled off the boards as I was skating down the slot,” forward Alex Killorn said. “I thought about taking a shot, but I’m glad I waited.”
UP NEXT – The Lightning head home Thursday to open up a season-long seven-game homestand that opens up with cross-state rival the Florida Panthers at 7:30 p.m. During the seven-game stretch at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Bolts will revisit the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, as well as facing two other final four 2012-13 Stanley Cup Playoff teams in the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins.