Kyle Okposo scored the game winner and Carter Hutton made 29 saves as the Sabres stunned Tampa Bay, 2-1, at KeyBank Center Tuesday night.
Picking up their third win in a row the Sabres now have 22 points, placing them in a three-way tie for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division with Toronto and Boston.
The most encouraging thing to take away from this game is that the Sabres continue to show that sense of battle and belief that has been missing in recent years.
“It was a big test for us tonight,” Hutton said. “We kinda talked about that earlier in the day. They’re a good hockey team. I thought for points we let them be a good hockey team we kinda sat back and the second we did they (scored).”
Even though this was hardly the Sabres best effort of the year they still found a way to get the job done.
The Lightning outshot the Sabres 14-2 in the middle frame, but they didn’t fold.
Okposo scored what turned out to be the game winner while Carter Hutton stood strong between the pipes making 13 of his 29 saves.
Jeff Skinner opened the scoring in the first period when he netted his 13th goal of the season with assists going to Sam Reinhart (11th) and Nathan Beaulieu, who also helped set up Okposo.
Happy with the win the Sabres to a man confessed that Hutton bailed them out and that this was not the kind of effort that will result in long term success.
“That’s a good hockey team over there. I thought we gave them just a little too much room to operate,” Okposo said. “We just weren’t as sharp. I think we gotta clean up some stuff. I know we’ve won the last three games, but we’ve probably only played really good for about a period and a half. So we’ve got some stuff to clean up.”
Anthony Cirelli scored the lone Tampa Bay goal in the second period.
“Us getting down early. I thought we bounced back pretty good,” Cirelli said.
“We had our chances. Their goalie made some big saves so gotta give him some credit.”