TAMPA -- The Buffalo Sabres were out-shot, committed numerous penalties and spent much of the game retreating. Not a great game plan for breaking a three-game losing streak. But Buffalo made it work, scoring early in the third period on Tuesday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum and held on to beat the Lightning, 2-1.
Buffalo emerged from two periods of offensive problems -- caused partly by numerous penalty kills -- to take a 2-1 lead just 52 seconds into the third period. Tyler Myers' fling from near the right faceoff circle easily beat goaltender Mathieu Garon, who had strayed far to his right in failing to control a Sabres pass.
Thomas Vanek added his second assist of the night, Jason Pominville his first.
The teams played to a 1-1 tie in a first period where each team managed just five shots. Tampa Bay controlled play but was sluggish with the puck, struggling to complete key passes or maintain the offensive zone in key moments, including two power plays where the Lightning managed just one shot.
Tampa Bay looked ready to extend Buffalo's losing streak to four straight with a goal less than two minutes in, but the Lightning flattened thereafter. Steven Stamkos, the league's top scorer with (14) goals, followed a long rebound of a Ryan Miller pad save with a quick poke and a 1-0 lead with 18:35 left in the period. Teddy Purcell and Cory Conacher had the assists.
A turnover in the defensive zone cued the sequence for Buffalo's tying goal. Vanek intercepted a pass at the blue line and cycled the puck and Cody Hodgson flicked it off defender's skate to tie the score, 1-1, with 9:58 left in the period. Andrej Sekera and Vanek had the assists.
Buffalo racked up three more penalties in the second period, giving the Lightning numerous chances including a brief 5-on-3, but the score remained tie 1-1 entering the third period. Miller was able to survive Tampa Bay's constant offensive pressure with a combination of slick goaltending -- he twice slid left to engulf power play one-timers by Stamkos -- a committed shot-blocking effort by the Sabres and a dab of good fortune as Stamkos nicked the pipe with a wrist shot in the second power play.
Myers had to haul down the Lightning's Martin St. Louis as he rushed Miller with the puck on the power play, but Tampa Bay managed just one shot on the ensuing two-man advantage. The Lightning was assessed one penalty through the first two periods.
NOTES: Stamkos has scored at least one goal in six straight games. He entered tied for the league lead in goals (13) and points (29). ... The Lightning entered having won four of five, Buffalo losing four consecutively. Buffalo interim coach Ron Rolston had not yet won since taking over when Lindy Ruff was fired last Wednesday. ... Stamkos was named the NHL's second star for the week after producing four goals and four assists in four games. ... Buffalo entered with the fewest points (13) in the Eastern Conference. ... Conacher entered the game leading all rookies with 17 goals in 18 games.