TAMPA, Fla. -- Ondrej Palat's eventual game-winning goal with four minutes left helped the Tampa Bay Lightning edge the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Palat collected a loose puck and scored his third goal of the season as the Sabres flailed in front of goaltender Ryan Miller.
Martin St. Louis had tied the score at 2 for the Lightning with 5:51 remaining when he took a cross-slot pass from Steven Stamkos and ripped his sixth goal of the season. The goal was the Lightning captain's last since scoring the overtime winner Thursday against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The assist was Stamkos' eighth.
Thomas Vanek gave Buffalo an unlikely 2-1 lead with 7:14 left after being outplayed for the majority of the game, popping in his fourth goal of the season after a superb rush to the net and dish left from Marcus Foligno. The assist, coming off a breakout started by rookie Zemgus Girgensons, was Foligno's third.
In the opening minutes, the Lightning (7-3-0) didn't seem to suffer any letdown after an exhilarating 6-5 overtime win over Chicago, but became increasingly bogged down by the rebuilding Sabres (2-10-1). Going 1-for-5 on the power play after an encouraging start didn't help.
Center Tyler Johnson had given the Lightning a 1-0 lead with 7:12 left in the first period with Tampa Bay's third goal in its last five power plays over two games. Johnson swooped in front to collect a rebound off Miller that defenseman Tyler Myers could not clear and snapped in his third goal of the season. Valterri Filppula (5) and Matt Carle (6), who rocketed the puck onto Miller from near the blue line, collected assists.
A Buffalo team with four teenaged rookies on the roster was able to stay close by killing four consecutive power plays and tied the game at 1 on Brian Flynn's second goal of the season with 7:02 left in a physical second period. With Bishop sprawling in front of the goal, Flynn nabbed a Cody McCormick cross-crease pass and shot into an open net. The assist was McCormick's second. Ville Leino notched his first.
NOTES: Leino missed 11 consecutive games after cracking a rib in the first 13 minutes of Buffalo's season-opener. ... Two of Johnson's first three goals this season came against Buffalo. ... Tampa Bay entered Saturday with more goals (25) in six home games than Buffalo had scored (18) in 12 total contests this season. ... The Sabres have been outscored 16-1 in first periods this season. ... Lightning coach Jon Cooper added little-used D Keith Aulie and D Mark Barberio to his lineup on Saturday to keep his depth players involved. Barberio had not played since regular-season opener Oct. 3, Aulie since Oct. 8. ... Lightning D Andrej Sustr and LW P.C. Labrie were scratched. ... Lightning D Victor Hedman (foot) did not practice Friday but played Saturday.