Struggling Sabres pick up 4-2 win against Lightning for sixth-straight win in Tampa

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Jason Pominville and the Buffalo Sabres probably wouldn’t mind playing the Tampa Bay Lightning more often.

Pominville scored a goal and had two assists as the struggling Sabres defeated the Lightning 4-2 on Tuesday night.

The Sabres had lost 12 of 15 entering the game, but playing Tampa Bay has been good for Buffalo in recent years.

The Sabres have won nine of their last 10 against the Lightning, including six straight in Tampa.

“You can’t explain why you struggle against teams,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “And you can’t explain why you end up having success against them. We’ve had good success in this building for whatever reason. I like Tampa.”

The Sabres scored at 4:48 in the first period on a 2-on-1 breakaway by Pominville and Clarke MacArthur. MacArthur’s sixth goal came off Pominville’s 28th assist of the season. Pominville picked up his goal eight minutes later, sending a wrist shot to the upper right corner past goalie Johan Holmqvist.

“I thought coming off the break, we played pretty well,” Pominville said. “That’s the way we’ve got to play if we want to win games. We’ve got to be desperate.”

Ruff felt Tampa Bay had to change their game plan because of the early deficit.

“It puts the other team in a different frame of mind,” Ruff said. “It makes them change their game. Instead of being a little safer in defending, they have to get on their toes, to take some chances.”

Buffalo extended its lead to 4-0 on goals from Drew Stafford and Derek Roy. Pominville picked up his second assist on Roy’s 19th goal.

“(There was) probably a lot of missed shots,” forward Brad Richards said. “When you’re down, you don’t do things the way you normally would. You’re trying extra hard. You’d like always hit the net, but sometimes you’re trying to score.”

The Lightning finally scored on a 5-on-3 power play, when Richards hit a wrist shot on a pass from Dan Boyle.

“It’s not through lack of effort,” Lightning coach John Tortorella said. “We had some really good scoring chances that didn’t get on net and that’s the way it went tonight.”

Tampa Bay was able to cut the lead in half on a power play in the third. Vaclav Prospal scored a redirect goal in front of goalie Ryan Miller on a shot from Boyle. Boyle, who missed 36 games due to wrist surgery, has two goals and two assists since returning Jan. 24.

“They play a run-and-gun game,” MacArthur said. “If you sit back and you play good D and you wait for them, they’ll (have) chances. I think the chances we did get, we capitalized on them.”

Holmqvist, who has allowed seven goals in his last two starts, made 22 saves. Miller picked up his 20th win of the season and had 23 saves.

“It’s disappointing, but the energy we had is something we’re going to have to keep bringing here down the stretch,” Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis said.


RW Michel Ouellet returned to action after missing 18 games with a dislocated left shoulder. … Sabres C Michael Ryan returned after missing three games with an eye injury. … D Nathan Paetsch missed Tuesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. … Kyle Wanvig was sent to Norfolk of AHL.

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Three Stars

  Three Stars
J. Pominville
Jason Pominville
Sabres - RW
Goals: 1
Assists: 2
R. Miller
Ryan Miller
Sabres - G
Saves: 23
Save Pct.: .920
J. Hecht
Jochen Hecht
Sabres - C
Goals: 0
Assists: 2


Goalie Team Shot Save
Johan Holmqvist Dal 26 22


Tuesday, Jan 29