Late Penalties Doom Lightning in OT Loss to Sabres

by | Mar 1, 2024

Late Penalties Doom Lightning in OT Loss to Sabres

by | Mar 1, 2024

TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning held a 2-1 lead over the Buffalo Sabres midway through the third period and the Bolts presumably were in position to nail two points and push themselves back toward the middle of the Eastern Conference playoffs standings.

A questionable hi-sticking penalty was called on Brayden Point at the 10:21 mark of the period and Buffalo’s Tage Thompson followed through with a power play goal to tie the game at 2-2.

“It’s hard because regardless of how the penalty is taken, one thing I had a problem with is Point’s racing down the ice and he is trying to chase down the puck for a breakaway,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “Then somehow, I don’t know how, but one of the back checkers goes into his stick. I don’t think I have ever seen that called.”

Thompson drove the puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for a power-play goal. He was in the middle of a rush that allowed him to place the puck just inside the left goal post.

“Again, I am not the ref,” Cooper said. “Plays will go for you and against you. I thought there was a lot that went against us tonight. I think the building saw it and they don’t call it. They didn’t call it, so you can sit here and say that call was the difference, but they ended up calling a penalty against us and we couldn’t kill it off.”

Both teams killed off power plays later in the third period as Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman was hit with a hooking penalty at 16:34 after Buffalo forward Zach Benson was called for tripping at 13:10.

However, the turning point of the game was the call on Point, which seemed to change the momentum in Buffalo’s favor for the rest of the game.

“I took a penalty there and the guy was behind me, but it’s still a high stick and they score on it,” explained Point. “Then we get a chance to come out with a power play of our own and we don’t execute. That part hurts for sure.”

The Sabres’ took the 3-2 win in overtime on forward Rasmus Dahlin’s score off of a 4-on-3 power play after the officials cited Nikita Kucherov with a hook.

For Tampa Bay, Point scored his 31st goal of the season at 8:42 in the first period to give the Bolts a 1-0 advantage. Kucherov was on the left side of the net and he passed into the middle to Point. He used a move on Buffalo goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as he found the net on his shot from just above the crease.

Point’s marker was his team-leading sixth game-opening goal of the season for the Bolts.

Conversely, Lightning forward Mitchell Chaffee scored his third goal of the season at 17:18 into the second period as he ricocheted a puck over Luukkonen for the 2-1 Bolts’ lead.

“It’s obviously doing a lot of the little things,” analyzed Chaffee of Tampa Bay’s latest struggles. “It’s getting it in deep and a lot of it is forechecking well. It seems to be coming down to penalties and it seems to be biting us now. I think that is a part we can clean up a little bit.”

The Lightning fell to 18-8-4 in Amalie Arena this season and they have lost four in a row on home ice for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

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