Quick Hits: Lightning 2, Sabres 1 (SO) - The Buffalo News
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Quick Hits: Lightning 2, Sabres 1 (SO)

With a chance to move up a notch in the Eastern Conference standings, the Buffalo Sabres couldn't take advantage of the opportunity Saturday night.

Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov scored while Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel were stopped to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 shootout victory over the Sabres before 18,935 in KeyBank Center.

A regulation win could have moved Buffalo one point ahead of Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference standing and within four points of the New York Islanders for the final wild-card slot. Instead, the Sabres are five out of the final playoff slot and fell two behind Tampa.

The Lightning posted a fifth straight win in Buffalo for the first time since they entered the NHL in 1991. They are 11-1-1 against the Sabres in the last 13 meetings and 7-0-1 in the last eight since the start of the 2013-14 season.

In the OT: Both teams had a power play and failed to score. Tampa outshot Buffalo, 5-2, and the shots through 65 minutes finished even at 32-32.

Opening the scoring: Nikita Kucherov went off for hooking at 19:39 of the first period and it took the Sabres just nine seconds to capitalize and Ryan O'Reilly banged home a one-timer from the right circle off a Rasmus Ristolainen pass for his 15th goal of the season.

Bolts strike back: Tampa Bay pulled even at 2:37 of the second as Tyler Johnson had a goalmouth tap-in of Victor Hedman's pass after he won the faceoff from Evan Rodrigues and then eluded Rodrigues to get to the net.

Big numbers: Johnson's goal was his 19th of the season and the assists were No. 43 for Hedman and No. 35 for Nikita Kucherov. Among assist leaders, Hedman is fourth in the league 0verall and second to Ottawa's Erik Karlsson among defensemen.

Adding another notch: Jack Eichel got the second assist on the O'Reilly goal, extending his career-high point streak to nine games (two goals, 10 assists).

Streaking: The Eichel point streak is the longest active run in the NHL and the longest by a Sabres player since Tim Connolly had a point in 16 straight games during the 2009-10 season.

In the medical room: Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov's rough season continued as left late in the first period after taking a high hit from Tampa Bay's Jake Dotchin behind the Buffalo net on the tail end of a play that saw Sabres defenseman Cody Franson drive Johnson into the boards. Kulikov suffered an upper-body injury and didn't return.

On the PK: Hopelessly buried at the bottom of the NHL rankings much of the year, the Buffalo penalty killing entered the game having killed 18 of 19 chances over the last eight games -- after allowing seven power-play goals in the seven games before that.

"We're doing a good job," O'Reilly said before the game. "Obviously it was an issue for a while there and it's got to be better. You look at the better teams in the league and they all have good penalty kills. It's an important thing. We want to play aggressive, play physical. Seeing the way they move the puck, how quick it is, how dangerous they are, the key thing is staying out of the box. "

The Sabres did just that, not taking a minor penalty over the first 40 minutes. The first one, a tripping penalty on Josh Gorges, came at 6:04 of the third and Buffalo killed it off.

Twinsies: Eichel and Sam Reinhart are roommates who shared more than living space coming into the game. They had exactly the same stats, albeit Reinhart while playing 62 games and Eichel just 43: Each had 15 goals, 25 assists, 40 points, three game-winning goals, a minus-7 rating and eight penalty minutes. Very eerie.

Back to backs: The game opened the 13th set of consecutive games for the Sabres, who play an NHL-high 19 sets this season. They are 6-4-3 in the first game and 4-7-1 in the second game.

Up Next: The Sabres hit the plane right after the game for Pittsburgh, where they have a semi-matinee 5 p.m. start Sunday against the Penguins in their only visit of the season to the newly-named home of the defending Stanley Cup champions, PPG Paints Arena. The next home game is Tuesday against Philadelphia, a 7:30 start on NBC Sports Network.

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