The Buffalo Sabres were left scratching their heads in their dressing room Tuesday night after a home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Holding a 2-1 lead 5:21 into the third period, Sabres co-captain Thomas Vanek deflected a shot in from the point but had it waved off by the official. Vanek was then sent to the box for a high-sticking penalty that had apparently occurred moments earlier.
Lightning forward Teddy Purcell scored on the ensuing power play 22 seconds later to tie the game.
The Sabres then went from what they thought was a 3-1 lead to leaving the building with an overtime loss. Lightning forward Alex Killorn scored with 3:20 remaining in overtime to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 victory at First Niagara Center.
After the game, Vanek was still puzzled by the series of events that led to the game-tying goal.
“I didn’t even know we had a penalty. I tipped it in and the next thing I know, he’s waving it off and pointing at me that I got two minutes,” Vanek said. “It was a little confusing, especially at that time to make it 3-1. I think it’s what we needed. Unfortunately, they scored one right there.”
Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who made 32 saves in his second-straight start, even left for the bench on the delayed call because he thought it was on Tampa Bay. Defenseman Jamie McBain, who took the shot Vanek deflected in, also believed his team was about to go on the power play because the Sabres had the puck when the whistle finally blew.
“It didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense,” McBain said. “So originally, I thought the penalty – everyone did – that is was on their team because we still had possession of the puck. We made a couple plays and then when the call happened, we were all kind of confused and it’s unfortunate.”
The NHL released the following statement regarding the call:
“At 5:21 of the third period in the Lightning/Sabres game, the end-zone referee had a Buffalo penalty on delay. The referee did not see Sabres forward Steve Ott touch the puck, which then rebounded to Jamie McBain whose shot entered the net simultaneous with the referee blowing his whistle. The net result was the correct call - no goal, penalty to Buffalo.”
McBain scored his first goal as a member of the organization and Buffalo scored both of its goals with the man-advantage. McBain had an assist in the game as well. He wasn't the only Sabre to have a mult-point night. Cody Hodgson put up a goal and an assist and Vanek recorded a pair of helpers.
Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop turned aside 21 shots in goal.
The Sabres’ power play finally started clicking after an 0-for-13 start to the season. Buffalo ended up going 2-for-4 against Tampa Bay. Sabres coach Ron Rolston said he liked the composure of some of his point-men like McBain and Mark Pysyk, but that the power play still has some work to do.
“We were able to get some more pucks through,” Rolston said. “I thought we had some more plays at the net and around the net. I think whenever that happens, you’re going to have some success.”
For McBain, the power play goal was his first since March 24, 2012 at Detroit. He hadn’t had a multi-power-play-point game since Feb. 13, 2012.
“I feel like that’s something I bring to the table and something I want to contribute,” he said. “Obviously we were struggling there a little bit so to be able to get two of them tonight is definitely something we can build on.”
The Sabres were unable to pick up their first victory of the season, but did earn their first point of 2013-14. They’ll try again Thursday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.