BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) After the Sabres failed to nurse a one-goal lead over the final period, Dylan Cozens stepped up by scoring 1:46 into overtime to secure Buffalo’s first win of the season by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Tuesday night.
The goal came after Buffalo blew a 2-0 first-period lead, and after Brandon Hagel scored twice, and tied the game with seven seconds remaining.
“That would be frustrating to lose that game," Cozens said. “But those are the type of games we need to win. Low scoring, gritty games and games where we just find a way.”
Zemgus Girgensons and Jeff Skinner also scored for Buffalo, and rookie goalie Devon Levi stopped 21 shots in rebounding after opening the season with two losses.
Sabres coach Don Granato never felt his team experience a let down in confidence entering the extra frame.
“I love where they were at and just felt confident that they were going to get the job done,” Granato said. “And I think that was probably our message, just move on, we’ll win the game.”
The Sabres controlled much of the play in overtime, with Cozens accepting a pass in the high slot. He then skated to the edge of the right circle, where he snapped a hard shot that banked in off the far post.
Hagel saved the Lightning a point in the standings with his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Jonas Johansson finished with 28 saves as Tampa Bay battled back to avoid being swept on its three-game road trip following losses at Detroit and Ottawa.
“It’s obviously a step in the right direction, I mean, one (point) is better than none,” Hagel said.
As for his game-tying goal, Hagel said he sensed time was running out when Brayden Point flipped the puck toward the net from the right boards. Battling for position at the right post, Hagel batted the puck out of the air toward the net. Levi made the initial stop, before Hagel took a stab at the puck, and snuck it under the goalie’s left pad.
“Everything was kind of feeling in slow motion,” Hagel said. “I’m just trying to get a stick on it, trying to get it at the net and maybe something happens, and something did happen.”
The Sabres raced to a 2-0 first period lead with Girgensons and Skinner scoring 6 1/2 minutes apart.
Buffalo appeared to have control through the second period, but squandered several opportunities to pad its edge - including a failed 2-on-1 break in which JJ Peterka’s pass was broken up - before Hagel scored with 2:02 left.
In jeopardy of losing three straight to Atlantic Division rivals since a season-opening win over Nashville, Lightning coach Jon Cooper spoke of an early season urgency to get back track following the team's morning skate.
"I don’t want to say Game 4s (of the season) are big games, but this is a big one for us,” Cooper said.
Lightning: Captain Steven Stamkos, who appeared to be hurt after blocking a shot against Detroit on Saturday, missed his second straight game and was listed day to day. ... C Tyler Motte missed his third-straight game with an upper-body injury.
Sabres: D Mattias Samuelsson (upper body) did not return after appearing in one shift in the third period. Granato listed him as day to day. ... LW Victor Olofsson was a healthy scratch to make room for Tyson Jost to make his season debut.
Lightning: Play next five at home, beginning with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Sabres: Continue four-game homestand hosting the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
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