5 Observations: Lightning strike, take down Sabres 2-1 in SO

5 Observations: Lightning strike, take down Sabres 2-1 in SO
Posted at 11:03 PM, Mar 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-04 23:10:22-05

The Buffalo Sabres just can't seem to figure out how to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. With a 2-1 shootout loss on Saturday, the Sabres have now lost 10 of their last 11 games to the Lightning.

Five observations from Saturday's loss: 

A game they had to have

Heading into Saturday's tilt the Sabres had a chance to leapfrog a team they were chasing in the standings. Instead, Tampa Bay has widened their lead in the standings by two points with one less game played.

Let's not kid ourselves, the Sabres have the slimmest of chances at making the playoffs and if they continue to lose to teams they're chasing in the standings those chances will vanish completely. Buffalo now has to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on short rest. After that, the Sabres play Philadelphia, Columbus twice, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim, so things aren't getting any easier.

Shootout struggles

The Sabres are now 1-6 in shootouts this season. Robin Lehner has had the hardest time -- he hasn't made in a shootout this season [0-for-8].

After the game, Lehner admitted that he's struggled in shootouts (he says this after every shootout loss) and that he needs to play better.

"It's different, it's not hockey," Lehner said. "Maybe I think I have a problem adjusting to the speed changes and you know, it is what it is."

Lehner was solid for the entire game until the shootout, so he does deserve some credit there. Remember when he stoned Jonathan Drouin in the third period?

"Not a lot of ways to look at it," Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was outstanding in the game, he got us the point in the game, he's a mystery in the shootout."

The Sabres haven't found themselves in a shootout since December, so rust could be a factor, but moving forward they need to figure out shootouts. These are precious points that the Sabres are leaving on the table.

Oh my goodness

Can we take a moment to appreciate Nikita Kucherov? Yes, he did this on purpose. This was one of the best attempts I've ever seen. It was so impressive that it gets its own observation. This is what everyone will be talking about, just check Twitter dot com. 

Walking into the locker room I overheard a Tampa Bay coach say that Kucherov has been practicing the move, but didn't think he would use it in a game. I guess he was wrong. 

That being said, hey N.H.L., get rid of the shootout, it's lame.

Containing an explosive offense.

On Saturday the Sabres actually did a pretty good job of limiting Tampa's scoring chances. When the final buzzer rang both the Sabres and Lightning had 32 shots, but as the game approached overtime Buffalo really tightened up in their own end.

Zach Bogosian had one of his better games in recent memory, as did Cody Franson. Both players looked comfortable in their own end and chipped in offensively. When Bogosian is entering the rush you know he's playing with some confidence, something we haven't seen much of lately. A loss is a loss, but it wasn't that bad of an effort from the blue and gold.

The Sabres didn't get on the board until the very end of the first period, but they almost doubled up the Lightning in shots, outshooting Tampa Bay in the first frame 15-8. Heading into Saturday's game the Sabres were 17-8-7 when scoring first, so you had to like their chances. I guess not.


With an assist on Ryan O'Reilly's goal Jack Eichel has extended his point streak to a career-best nine games. During that span, Eichel has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) and 41 points in 44 games.

Eichel now has 20 points in the Sabres last 16 games, the most among any player in the N.H.L. during that span. The point-streak is also currently the longest in the league. He's 'aight.