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Lightning get past Sabres, take win streak to five

Jan 20, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) looks to block a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) during the first period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltender Jonas Johansson returned to beat the club that drafted him as the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning produced their season-best fifth straight victory, topping the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Saturday afternoon.

A 2014 third-round draft pick by Buffalo, Johansson made 26 saves in his first start since beating the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 31.

Nicholas Paul scored at even-strength, while Tyler Motte delivered a short-handed goal for Tampa Bay. Calvin de Haan scored into an empty-net to move the Lightning to 6-2-0 this month.

Third-line left winger Michael Eyssimont played in his 100th career game as Tampa Bay won for the seventh time in the past nine matches (7-2-0) to open its three-game road trip.

Buffalo’s Dylan Cozens scored, and standout defenseman Rasmus Dahlin recorded an assist while skating in his 400th career NHL game.

Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s effort for a third consecutive home shutout this week was thwarted by a pair of early goals. He made 13 saves.

Buffalo lost despite keeping the Lightning’s high-scoring top line of Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov off the scoresheet.

The Sabres finished 3-3-0 on their season-long six-game homestand.

At 6:14 of the first period, Tampa Bay’s second line netted the first goal when Paul finished off a pair of sharp passes from Anthony Cirelli and Brandon Hagel. The tally, Paul’s 12th, broke an 11-game streak without a goal as he delivered for the first time since Dec. 21.

On the Sabres’ first power play, Motte stole the puck from Buffalo’s Alex Tuch up top and took off on a breakaway.

The third-line center raced down the left side toward Luukkonen and made it 2-0 with his fourth goal, the team’s second short-handed one thus far and the eighth yielded by the Sabres.

In the second, Buffalo’s game picked up, as it killed off a pair of Tampa Bay power plays and notched the frame’s only goal.

After strong work behind the Lightning net, JJ Peterka backhanded a feed to Cozens, who was back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Cozens sent in his eighth goal with a quick shot from close range that beat Johansson on the glove side at 13:52.

Johansson stopped Tuch’s breakaway in the first minute of the third, and de Haan sealed the victory with his third goal with 1:16 remaining after Luukkonen left the ice.

–Field Level Media

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