After suffering a third straight defeat and dropping two games at home, the road might be the best place for the Tampa Bay Lightning to regain their confidence.
Following a 5-4 overtime loss at home Thursday to Pittsburgh, the Lightning will hit the road for a two-game set, starting with Saturday’s matinee — rescheduled from Dec. 23 due to a winter storm — against the Buffalo Sabres in western New York.
The defeat to the Penguins was frustrating. Tampa Bay battled back on three occasions to even the game, then had the best chance early in three-on-three play to claim two points.
However, Jason Zucker ended it at 2:13 with a laser-like shot that beat goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. That left Tampa Bay with a 2-3-3 mark in its past eight outings and a three-game losing streak for the first time this season.
In defeat, Brayden Point scored his club-high 38th goal. The center added an assist on Victor Hedman’s tally with 4:10 remaining that sent the Eastern Conference teams to overtime.
But Tampa Bay was a wasted five-on-three power play — at 1:57, nearly a full one — that overlapped from the end of the second period to the start of the third that Point felt hurt the Lightning’s chances to win.
“Our effort was better and (we) had some chances on the power play to go up,” said Point, who has tallies in six straight games. “We have to start playing with a little bit of confidence and believe in ourselves to get back to how we were playing.
“You’ve got to remember that we’re a pretty good hockey team in here. We’ve done some winning.”
The Sabres beat the Lightning in their most recent meeting — a 6-5 win on Ilya Lyubushkin’s overtime goal on Feb. 23 — but they had very little success in Boston on Thursday night. Casey Mittelstadt’s 10th goal was Buffalo’s only one in a 7-1 rout.
After producing three consecutive wins, Buffalo dropped its second straight game. The other loss came against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Eastern Conference’s last-place team with just 46 points.
“(The Bruins) hold teams accountable for just the simple details, and we weren’t good in the details tonight,” said Sabres coach Don Granato, whose group will play four of its next five games at home and is 1-1-1 against Tampa Bay.
Buffalo will likely be without standout defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (lower body), who is eligible to come off injured reserve Saturday but may be kept out until Monday’s home game against the Edmonton Oilers.
At Friday’s NHL trade deadline, Buffalo acquired physical forward Jordan Greenway from the Minnesota Wild for a second-round pick in 2023 (via Vegas) and fifth-round pick in 2024. Greenway had just two goals and five assists in 45 games for Minnesota this season.
The club also dealt for AHL defenseman Austin Strand from the Anaheim Ducks and sent back blue-liner Chase Priskie. In a third deal, the Sabres received a 2025 seventh-round pick from the Nashville Predators for bottom-six forward Rasmus Asplund.
The Lightning acquired two gritty forwards earlier this week — Tanner Jeannot from the Nashville Predators on Sunday and Michael Eyssimont from the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media