BUFFALO, N.Y. - Alex Killorn and the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied late, extending their longest winning streak of the season into the new year.
Killorn had two goals and an assist to lead the Lightning back from a three-goal deficit for their fourth straight victory, 6-4 against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
“Good teams find a way to win,” Killorn said. “We didn’t have the start we wanted. But we did find a way to win. And that’s what’s important.”
Tyler Johnson added a goal and two assists, Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli each added a goal and an assist, Kevin Shattenkirk also scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 18 shots as the Lightning opened a four-game trip with their 12th consecutive win against an Atlantic Division opponent.
“We are chasing for a playoff spot and every point against those teams are important,” Palat said. “So we are happy we came out with two points.”
Conor Sheary had a goal and two assists, and Marcus Johansson had a goal and an assist for Buffalo. The Sabres also got goals from Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey in losing their fourth in a row. Linus Ullmark made 16 saves.
“It’s just not going our way,” said Johansson, who received a hooking penalty that put the Lightning on a power play prior to Killorn’s first goal.
“We do everything we can to get wins,” Johansson added. “When they slip away, it’s frustrating, and it’s tough. We’ve just got to learn from it and put it behind us, and get back to how we started the game. Keep building off that.”
Killorn’s second goal of the game and 15th of the season gave the Lightning their first lead 8:08 into the third period. Pat Maroon set up the go-ahead goal with a pass from behind the net. Killorn beat Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to receive the puck in the high slot and sent a wrist shot past Ullmark.
Shattenkirk got the tying goal less than two minutes earlier on a straightaway wrist shot that bounced off Johansson’s skate and over Ullmark’s glove.
Killorn recorded his third point when he assisted on Cirelli’s empty-net goal in the closing seconds.
The Lightning scored twice in a span of 2:58 to get within a goal late in the second period.
Killorn knocked in the rebound from Point’s shot that bounced off the right post on a power play. Then with about three minutes left in the period, Johnson received a long pass from Palat at the blue line and scored on a partial breakaway.
Mikhail Sergachev sparked the Lightning’s comeback when he fought with Buffalo’s Jake McCabe midway through the second period.
“Emotionally, we weren’t really in the game for some reason,” Killorn said. “Looking at the Sergachev fight, event though they scored right after, it kind of galvanized the group.”
The Sabres appeared to gain momentum from the fight and take control of the game when Eichel made an outstanding individual effort to score his first career short-handed goal and give Buffalo a 4-1 lead.
The NHL’s third-leading scorer blocked a shot from Shattenkirk before skating up the right wing and faking a shot from the circle to maneuver around Shattenkirk. Eichel moved the puck to his backhand and swept it past a sliding Vasilevskiy on the other side of the crease for his 25th of the season.
The goal came with 38 seconds remaining on a Lightning power play that followed McCabe receiving a penalty for instigating the fight with Sergachev in response to a hit on Eichel.
Sergachev also blocked two shots late in the third period that Killorn called “potentially game-savers.”
This was the Sabres’ first loss of the season when leading after two periods. They were 14-0-0 in such situations entering Tuesday.
“It’s not acceptable, obviously,” Eichel said. “A 4-1 lead and we lose the game.”
Sheary gave Buffalo the lead in the final minute of the first period. Curtis Lazar set up Sheaty for the one-timer from the right slot.
Johansson made it 2-0 when he beat Vasilevskiy with a long wrist shot from the right wall in the early stages of the second period. Buffalo regained its two-goal lead later in the second when Johansson made a slick backhand pass to set up Vesey in front of the net, after Johnson fed Palat in the high slot for Tampa Bay’s first goal on a power play seven minutes into the period.
NOTES: The Lightning swept the four-game season series with the Sabres for the second time in four seasons. … Killorn played in his 553rd NHL game, passing Brad Richards for sixth-most in Lightning history. … Sabres F Dalton Smith made his NHL debut after being called up from the minors and signing a one-year contract on Monday. … Buffalo scratched F Evan Rodrigues to make room for Dalton in the lineup. Prior to Tuesday’s game, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Rodrigues has requested a trade. … Sabres D Marco Scandella returned after missing two games due to an illness. … Johnson’s 16 assists against the Sabres are the most he has against any NHL team. … The Lightning played their fifth of eight straight against Eastern Conference and fourth of six in a row against Atlantic Division foes.
Lightning: At Montreal on Thursday.
Sabres: Host Edmonton on Thursday.
Sabres: Host Edmonton on Thursday.