Tampa Bay hit the post with two potential game-tying goals
Hockey has a lot of unpleasant sounds to it for such a beautiful game. A big hint sometimes creates a cringeworthy crunch. Unpleasant words—words one does not use in polite company—are often shouted after goals allowed. Too many whistles in a penalty-filled game create a cacophony nobody wants to hear. Yet no sound in hockey is as painful, as frustrating, and as unforgiving as the ping of a good shot turned away by The Iron.
Post and Crossbar, who team up for the unstoppable tag team of The Iron, are as unkind as the old saying suggests. You might miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take, as Wayne Gretzky said, but the shooting percentage against The Iron isn’t much higher.
The Tampa Bay Lightning learned this the hard way on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres in a 2-1 loss defined by regrettable goals allowed and frustrating shots off of that great goalie Post. Carter Hutton did plenty of good work as well, stopping thirty Lightning shots without help, but it was Post that made the two saves that Bolts skaters will undoubtedly remember.
Nikita Kucherov was the victim of The Iron’s great work on Tuesday night, firing two third period shots that just about everybody expected to tie the game until they were met with that sickening “ping” sound. Meanwhile, the Sabres got goals from Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo to srt the pace for Buffalo’s win at home.
Anthony Cirelli had the Lightning’s lone tally, a goal 5:58 into the second period that cut the Sabres’ lead in half. Tampa Bay saw the bulk of the opportunities in the second and third periods, but Hutton and The Iron combined to turn them all away in the kind of night every team is bound to have at some point in an 82 game schedule. Go figure it would happen on a Tuesday night, when hockey is often at its most bizarre during regular seasons.
The game fans of both teams, and fans in the national audience as well, expected never really materialized. The Lightning only showed their tremendous speed and depth on Cirelli’s goal, and Buffalo captain Jack Eichel was largely held in check on a night where his seemingly laser-guided shot was not up against world-class Andrei Vasilevskiy but rather backup netminder Louis Domingue.
Domingue stopped seventeen shots on nineteen opportunities. Letting up two goals in an NHL game is nothing to sneeze at, but Domingue would certainly regret one of the goals he gave up, a five-hole opportunity that he would normally stop.
Tampa Bay still leads the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with 25 points, but the win brings Buffalo to 22 and a tie for second place with the Maple Leafs and Bruins. Recent history in Buffalo has not been particularly happy, with losing seasons the norm and little outisde of draft picks for future hope, but with a healthy Eichel and a young team coming into its own this is a team to look out for moving forward. There are mounds of talent on that Buffalo squad, and recent history aside they are looking to take the next step in their team development. Grinding out a win against one of the best teams in the NHL suggests brighter days are ahead at the Canadian border.
Up Next for Bolts
The Lightning remain in the northeast for their road trip, visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday night to see a Penguins team that is a bit different from their recent history of contenders and champions.
Sydney Crosby is still in Pittsburgh, and indeed the Penguins are still loaded with talent young and old, but the Pens currently have just seventeen points, good for a sixth-place tie in the Metropolitan Division with the Washington Capitals. Both Washington and Pittsburgh are likely to overcome their stutter starts, but the Lighting are looking to separate themselves and this would be a good opportunity on that end.