As Rasmus Dahlin joins the injured list, Sabres battle hard but fall late to Lightning

“We’re confident in these guys, the guys that are out there,” said Jeff Skinner, whose goal at 4:25 of the third period gave the Sabers a 3-2 lead. “Those are some big shoes to fill. We’ve got to kind of fill those minutes collectively. But we have the confidence that we can get the job done. Obviously, we didn’t get the result. But there’s a lot of good things and over the course of 82 games, these are the types of things that you want to build.”

With Dahlin out, rookie Owen Power took over the mantle as Buffalo’s on-ice leader in the game. Power, who entered the NHL leading rookies on the ice with 22:41 per game, has amassed 28:14 in this one while playing with Clague. Lyubushkin took Dahlin’s place alongside Jacob Bryson. The third pair of Pilut with Casey Fitzgerald remained intact.

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“That’s why you sign extra guys in the summer, for these moments,” Granato said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a number of injuries especially in the defensive group, which is a bit strange, but you just deal with it.”

Here are some observations about the game:

1. Powerful performance

Power had two assists, a plus-one rating and six hits in the game, his first against Tampa Bay’s veteran lineup and in front of its usual sellout crowd of 19,092.

“The environment didn’t affect him at all,” Granato said of Power, who went 24:43 in Carolina. “And I can’t say that for every guy on the team. His performance tonight was just incredible.”

“It was a good challenge for me to do that and hopefully we can build on that,” Power said. “A couple of their goals were really good chances for us, and they kind of came back down the ice and put them in the back of the net. They’re obviously a really experienced team that’s tough to play against.”

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2. On the record

The Sabers went toe-to-toe with Tampa, coming back twice to tie the game in the first 40 minutes and take a 3-2 lead on Skinner’s layup off Alex Tuch’s pass from the edge of the crease at 4:25 of the third period. Zemgus Girgensons took his own rebound off the backboard to make it 1-1 at 16:24 of the first period, and Casey Mittelstadt put the ball in out of the air when he hit a Power wrister at 8:34 of the second to make it 2-2 .

Nick Paul and Brayden Point scored the first two goals for Tampa, the second also on the power play. Former Buffalo draft pick Brandon Hagel tied the game at 3-3 at 7:40 of the third, jamming the puck in on a tight shot after initially scoring on a shot.

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“We lost that game because of the difference in experience, not because of skill,” Granato said.

3. In networks

It was a good performance from Buffalo’s Comrie, who made some superb saves against the Lightning’s players. He thwarted Point in the second period on a spin-o-rama move and spent the middle period frustrating Kucherov three times and stopping Hagel on a short breakaway. But Perbix’s goal, a shot without a screen, annoyed him.

“The guys played great tonight. Our D-Corps was great. We fought really, really hard and deserved to get at least a point tonight,”
Comrie said. “I conceded a goal with less than five minutes to go, and I can’t do that in a 3-3 game. If they make perfect shots, credit to them. But that’s a save I can make and want to make.”

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