Killorn's patience pays off on OT winner for Lightning
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper has been trying to get center Alex Killorn to hold onto the puck less in order to showcase his potent shooting ability.
Cooper may have a change of heart after Tuesday night's 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Killorn held onto the puck just long enough to freeze the Sabres defense before lifting a backhand shot into the net to give the Lightning a victory at the First Niagara Center.
"Coop always likes me to shoot the puck and not hold onto it," Killorn said. "So you just kind of had to make a read and I realized I would have had a better opportunity if I would have held it for a second so it worked out."
It was the center's split-second decision that created the opening he was looking for inside the opposing right circle. Killorn caught the Sabres defense standing still and Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth had committed himself by going on his side at the edge of the crease.
"He is a shooter. He's got a phenomenal shot," Cooper said. "We used to joke when he was playing for me in the American League, Killorn, you might have an NHL shot there. So then when he's in the NHL he doesn't use it. So I've been on him a little bit but that was a big-time play by everybody."
The Lightning overcame a third-period deficit for the second game in a row. On Saturday, the Lightning scored twice in the third period before going on to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout.
On Tuesday, the Lightning trailed 2-1 entering the final period.
Teddy Purcell and Tyler Johnson also scored for the Lightning, who improved to 2-1. Ben Bishop had 21 saves for the Lightning.
Jamie McBain and Cody Hodgson scored for the Sabres, who picked up their first point of the season (0-3-1). Enroth had 31 saves.
Purcell tied the game at 2 by scoring 5:43 into the third period following a bizarre series of events.
Thomas Vanek had appeared to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead on a deflection from a McBain shot five minutes into the third period, but the goal was disallowed due to a questionable high-sticking penalty on Vanek.
Purcell tied the game moments later on the ensuing power play when he jammed the puck between Enroth's legs.
"I think the air went out of the crowd because we scored so quick after the incident and I think that was a big turn of events," Cooper said. "The arm was up, it was tough. It was a late whistle, so I think that's what got everybody up in arms but it happens. The way it played out, obviously that was a big momentum swing for us."
Sabres coach Ron Rolston was not pleased with the events and was not given an explanation from the referees.
"I don't know what happened there," Rolston said. "I mean, we had the puck, too, for I don't know how many seconds, I'd have to go back and look at it. We thought we were going on the power play and we ended up getting a goal disallowed and then being short on top of it."
The NHL said in an email that the correct decision was made and that the end-zone referee did not see Sabres forward Steve Ott touch the puck behind the net before it went back to McBain.
"I tipped it in and 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 the time to make it 3-1. I think it was what we needed. Unfortunately, they scored one right there."
Playing in just his second game with the Sabres, McBain had a hand in each of Buffalo's first two goals. He helped set up Buffalo's first goal when his redirected shot found a wide-open Hodgson beside the Tampa Bay net. Later, McBain's goal gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 1:26 left in the second period.
Hodgson gave the Sabres their first lead of the season on the power play at 11:09 of the second period. After Vanek redirected McBain's shot from the point, the puck fell to Hodgson, who was parked to the left of the net, and the center put the puck into the open net.
Buffalo's initial lead didn't last very long. The Lightning tied it up at 1 at 13:35 on Johnson's first goal of the season. Johnson unleashed a wrister from the right circle that went above Enroth and into the net.
NOTES: C Cody McCormick, LW Johan Larsson and D Alexander Sulzer were scratched by the Sabres for Tuesday's game. D Mark Barberio, D Andrej Sustr and RW Richard Panik were scratched for the Lightning. ... Buffalo D Henrik Tallinder (upper body) was placed on injured reserve and is expected to be out through the weekend. ... The Lightning wrapped up a three-game road trip Tuesday night. They will begin a season-long, seven-game homestand Thursday night when they take on the Florida Panthers. ... In the last eight seasons, the Sabres have scored seven or more goals in a game against the Lightning six times. ... This was the 78th game all-time between Buffalo and Tampa Bay.