In yet another worst case scenario for the Tampa Bay Lightning today — check my piece on realignment for the first one of the day — the Lightning lost to the cellar-dwelling Buffalo Sabres tonight at home by a score of 2-1.
They also lost steady defenseman and offseason addition Sami Salo to an undisclosed lower body injury during the second period. He never returned to the game.
The Bolts opened the scoring early in the first period on a rush with Teddy Purcell, Steven Stamkos, and Cory Conacher.
Purcell carried the puck into the offensive zone and tried a long wrister that was blocked down and tapped by Conacher back to Purcell's stick. Purcell then fired a hard, low wrister off Sabres goalie Ryan Miller that ended up on Stamkos' stick and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, that was the last time the first, last, and only time they would beat Miller all night.
The equalizer came from Cody Hodgson after a terrible turnover at the blue line by Victor Hedman. With no one pressuring him in his own zone, he misfired a pass straight to a Buffalo stick, creating havoc in the defensive zone and leading directly to the Buffalo goal.
After a couple of tremendous opportunities for the Bolts, including 46 seconds of 5-on-3 time and a few shots off the post, the Sabres pulled ahead with a goal from Tyler Myers after the Bolts failed to cleanly break out of their own zone.
The Lightning pressed hard for an equalizer late but came up short yet again on another third period comeback attempt. Miller finished with 30 saves.
There was little information regarding the status of Sami Salo moving forward, save for this cryptic tweet from Erik Erlendsson:
Sami Salo gave me the thumbs up as he walked by when I asked how he was, read into it as you wish
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) February 27, 2013
For what it's worth, the Salo injury may have been inevitable, and at least it seems minor for now.
Salo has never played in 100% of the regular season games in one season in his NHL career.
Now the Bolts will look to regroup on the road against teams outside their division, where they've struggled. They are a mere 3-5 on the road and 3-9 against teams in the Atlantic and Northeast Divisions.
Their next chance to get back in the winning column will be against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
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