Tampa Bay brought the players' fathers to Buffalo, and they had to be feeling good as their settled into their suite Tuesday. The Lightning had been dominating the Sabres for years, especially in KeyBank Center.
The run ended. Buffalo played solid from start to finish, earning a 5-3 victory over the NHL's best team.
It was a rare one. The Lightning were 15-2-1 in the previous 18 meetings. They were on an 8-0-1 run in Buffalo, including six straight by a combined score of 19-5.
The Sabres, led by Ryan O'Reilly's three-point night, didn't care. They scored twice on the power play and got an empty-net goal by Sam Reinhart with 7.1 seconds left to win for the third time in four games.
Speed and finish: The Sabres' Nick Baptiste opened the scoring with 6:25 gone, recording his fifth goal in his 23rd career game. The winger burst up the left side and pushed the puck past defenseman Anton Stralman in the Lightning zone. Zemgus Girgensons picked it up and fed Baptiste, who kept going to the net to get behind Stralman.
Baptiste showed his scoring touch with a backhand between the pads of goaltender Louis Domingue.
Passing display: Tampa Bay's Yanni Gourde made it 1-1 on the power play with 6:37 left in the first, but right wing Nikita Kucherov deserves most of the credit. First, he lifted a pass over the heads of the Sabres at the blue line to feed Steven Stamkos. After getting the puck back, Kucherov put a pinpoint pass onto Gourde's stick for a net-front tip.
The goal was Gourde's 22nd of the season.
Not happy: After seeing the Lightning get away with potential penalties, Sabres coach Phil Housley gave the referees an earful after they whistled Scott Wilson for closing his hand on the puck. The first-period penalty led to Gourde's goal.
Buffalo had an 8-6 shot edge when Wilson went to the box with 7:50 left. The Sabres were whistled for another penalty, and Tampa took nine of the period's final 10 shots for a 14-9 advantage.
Happier: The officials issued Tampa's Slater Koekkoek a high-sticking penalty at the end of the first period, giving the Sabres a two-minute power play to open the second. They needed only 1:16 thanks to quick puck movement.
Evan Rodrigues passed to Sam Reinhart down low, and the right winger fed Ryan O'Reilly in the slot for a shot. Reinhart buried the rebound for his 12th goal of the season.
Empty net: Chad Johnson left the Sabres' net for a dump-in and pushed the puck to defenseman Victor Antipin. Bolts center Ryan Callahan was hounding and whacking Antipin as he tried to clear, and the puck went into the crease to a wide-open Vladislav Namestnikov.
He scored into the empty cage with 6:41 left in the second to tie it, 2-2.
Staying hot: Buffalo left wing Scott Wilson and defenseman Casey Nelson continued their run of score-sheet appearances, putting Buffalo back in front with 4:13 to go in the second. Nelson inched toward the net and fired into the traffic created by Wilson, who tipped the puck home.
Wilson has three goals and six points in the last 10 games. Nelson has three assists and four points in the last five.
Much happier: The Sabres' power play connected for the second time with 16:19 to play, giving the home team a 4-2 advantage. Kyle Okposo's shot went wide, but O'Reilly collected a carom off the boards while circling behind the net and put a backhand home.
Getting it back: The Lightning's power play struck with 8:24 remaining. Johnson stopped a point shot, but Callahan corralled the rebound and reached around the goaltender.
Partial standing ovation: The sparse crowd, announced at 16,530 tickets sold, got loud midway through the second period as Buffalo killed a five-on-three that lasted 1:53. O'Reilly and Jacob Josefson blocked shots while another was deflected wide.
The first of two straight penalties to Buffalo went to center Johan Larsson, who has four minors, a major, a match penalty and a two-game suspension in his last five outings.
New lines: Housley changed every line from the previous game. Left wing Benoit Pouliot moved up to skate with O'Reilly and Reinhart. Rodrigues centered for Evander Kane and Okposo. Larsson skated in the middle of Wilson and Jason Pominville. Josefson was between Zemgus Girgensons and Baptiste.
Jordan Nolan was the healthy scratch. Defenseman Josh Gorges joined him on the sidelines.
Next: The Sabres hit the road to face Ottawa on Thursday. After that, Buffalo will host a pair of matinees. The Los Angeles Kings visit at 1 p.m. Saturday and the Washington Capitals visit at 3 p.m. Monday.