A good start to the game and good effort throughout, but nothing to show for it.
Daniel Briere scored his first career hattrick and Ryan Miller was in all-star form as Buffalo erased a 1-0 deficit with four unanswered goals on their way to a 4-1 victory on Dave Andreychuk night. Vincent Lecavalier's wraparound goal in the game's first minute was the only marker for Tampa - who had multiple scoring chances, but saw passes jump over sticks, shots hit skates, and/or Miller come up big. Vaclav Prospal had the only assist on the evening, and even that was speculative as it appeared Prospal gave the puck away behind the net and Jochen Hecht of Buffalo was trying to swing it around the end boards when Lecavalier blocked the attempt with his right foot, then kicked the puck to his stick with his left foot before putting it through the legs of an unsuspecting Miller for the goal.
Andre Roy saw his first action for the Lightning since the Cup year and fought Andrew Peters in his first shift. Roy's physical play also sparked Nick Tarnasky to throw more hits and that line - which was centered by captain Tim Taylor - was very effective not only on the forecheck, but creating scoring chances.
Once again, however, if the Lightning made a mistake, the puck ended up in the back of the net. This was highlighted by an odd decision by Brad Richards to stickhandle through a player while he was the last man back - resulting in a turnover that led to Buffalo's third goal. Just as odd was Martin St. Louis trying basically the same thing later in the game, and he nearly lost the puck to an opposing player in front of Mark Denis, who made 25 saves on the night, including a miraculous save on Maxim Afinogenov when Denis dove to his right and got his stick on a shot headed for an open net. Easily the save of the year so far for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay 0:53, Vincent Lecavalier 14 (Vaclav Prospal)
Buffalo 7:17, Daniel Briere 11 (Jason Pominville, Dmitri Kalinin)
Buffalo 10:34, Chris Drury 17 (Nathan Paetsch, Ales Kotalik)
Buffalo 17:15, Daniel Briere 12 (Jochen Hecht)
Buffalo 12:21, Daniel Briere 13 (Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
John Wessbecker was scoreless in UMASS' 3-0 loss to Merrimack.
UMASS goes to 7-4-2 overall and 4-3-1 in the HEAST. The Minutemen open a home-and-home against Boston College this weekend.
ECHL.com is reporting Springfield has sent Adam Henrich back to Johnstown. Henrich has 11 points (4g-7a) in nine games for Johnstown and one goal in five games with Springfield.
There can be co-winners because it's my column and I make the rules...