NHL Game Night: 1-12-19 Lightning at Sabres

Kucherov takes over Third Period and buries Buffalo.

TB-5
BUF-3

Louis Domingue allowed 3 goals on 33 shots for the win. He was overpushing pretty badly against odd man rush attempts and it burned him a couple of times, but goal support is a beautiful thing. I will give him credit, though, he made a couple of key ten bell saves in the Second Period to allow the Lightning to stay fully in the game.

First Period
0:26 TB Point (29), (Kucherov, Johnson)
5:47 BUF Reinhart (10), (Skinner, Dahlin)
19:50 BUF Thompson (6), (Girgensons, Sobotka)

Second Period
7:50 TB Palat (6), (Sergachev, Hedman)

Third Period
5:54 BUF Scandella (3), (Pominville, Sheary)
6:17 TB Kucherov (22), (Stamkos)
14:44 TB Stamkos (24), (Kucherov, Hedman)
18:41 TB Callahan (5), (Cirelli, Killorn)(PP)

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.

Lightning games have gotten somewhat formulaic at this point. They haven't really played a First Period of note in a while, and tonight's flat start was nothing new. They hang around in a tied game or even trailing by a goal here or there. And then they either flip the switch and blow a team off the ice or simply wear a team out in the final frame. Tonight's game had the extra feature of Nikita Kucherov absolutely taking over the game in the Third Period. He's a very good player, but I could make an argument this was Kucherov going to another gear tonight to help put the Sabres, who are now outside the playoffs looking in, away.

A word of note about the controversial Third Period officiating. First, Buffalo fans crying about the officiating need to recognize they outpaced the Lightning in power plays awarded 4-1. Call me crazy, but I know Buffalo isn't as pure as the driven snow and I know there were several missed calls Buffalo got away with. Second, on the Sergachev and Larsson dust up in the Third Period, recognize there was an uncalled slew foot moments before Sergachev snapped a hit Larsson in the mush. Yes, the Larsson call was a phantom cross check, but again, don't tell me Buffalo was as pure as the driven snow. Finally, the Eichel elbowing call to the back of McDonagh's head. He makes the argument that his elbow was tucked into his body and that McDonagh had his head down. Fine. Doesn't matter. It was a head shot. Period. Whatever you choose to call it, be it "elbowing" or whatever, the point is the league is trying to legislate head shots out of the game. It has to be a call. That was far more of a clear cut head shot than the Martel hit in Vancouver ever was, certainly.

Adam Erne had 2 hits in 10:08. Felt like he was stapled to the bench most of the night.

Erik Cernak was -2 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 22:08.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.