TAMPA -- The Buffalo Sabres' sputter to the finish reached its end Sunday with a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning before 19,092 in Amalie Arena. The Sabres lost both games of their Florida road trip as the Lightning got the game-winner with 1:24 left on a fluke goal by Brayden Point.
Point's shot from near the goal line deflected off Rasmus Ristolainen and past Linus Ullmark for his second goal of the game, putting a dubious conclusion to the Buffalo season at 33-37-12.
The Sabres dropped five of their last six games and finished last in the Atlantic Division for the third time in four years, passed by Detroit on the season's final day.
Victor Hedman scored an empty-net goal with one second left to close the scoring.
Tough times vs. Tampa: The Sabres went 0-3-1 against the Lightning this year and the Bolts swept Buffalo in a season series for the first time since their 26-year history. Tampa Bay has won 11 of its last 12 meetings with Buffalo and is 14-2-1 against the Sabres since 2013-14. The Bolts are also on an eight-game home point streak versus Buffalo (7-0-1).
Best in Blue and Gold: Easily the best Buffalo player in this game was goaltender Linus Ullmark, who got a chance to make his first start of the season. Ullmark made 33 saves in the game, stopping all 13 shots he faced in the first period and 25 of 27 over the first 40 minutes.
Getting even: Evander Kane got his 28th goal of the season at 11:17 of the third to forge a 2-2 tie. Kane drove hard to the net and tapped home a Brian Gionta pass to the edge of the crease.
Portrait of frustration: Ullmark had the number of Tampa Bay winger Jonathan Drouin the entire game, making four spectacular saves on him. One came a few seconds before the Kane goal, another came in the first period when Ullmark gave the puck away behind the net to Adam Erne but were able to dive back into the crease and make a glove save with Drouin expecting to have an empty net to deposit the puck into.
Taking the lead: The Sabres opened the scoring at 13:56 of the first period as William Carrier snapped a shot under the crossbar on a 2-on-1 break. It was Carrier's fifth goal of the season and first since Jan. 17.
On the scoresheet: The primary assist on the Carrier goal was by Alexander Nylander, the first NHL point in four games for Buffalo's No. 1 pick last June.
Pulling even: Point got Tampa even at 5:59 of the second on a goal-mouth tap-in of a Victor Hedman pass after breaking free of Evan Rodrigues.
Shortie alert: The Lightning went ahead, 2-1, on Braydon Coburn's short-handed goal at 12:20 of the second, the perfect finish of a 2-on-1 from Vladislav Namestnikov as the pass across the slot went through Dmitry Kulikov.
Fast finish for Bolts: Tampa fell just short of a playoff berth even though it went 20-6-4 over the final 30 games of the season. By contrast, Buffalo was 12-16-2 in its last 30.
Up Next: The Sabres return to KeyBank Center to clean out their lockers Monday. They'll meet with the coaches and General Manager Tim Murray and then speak to the media for the final time before breaking up for the summer. A decision on coach Dan Bylsma is the top item of business for the week.