Long time, no see.
In a bizarre bit of NHL scheduling, it had been more than a year since the Buffalo Sabres had met the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a team in its own division. That's probably not a bad thing.
The Sabres played the Bolts four times in the first 15 games last season and the only win came in the finale, a 4-1 triumph in Tampa on Nov. 10, 2015. In recent seasons, playing Tampa is a tall task in good times and a brutal one when times are tough.
The Sabres are certainly in the midst of the latter. They fell to the Lightning, 4-1, Thursday night in lifeless KeyBank Center as their winless streak was extended to six games (0-4-2).
The Lightning, remember, lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup final in 2015 and fell to Pittsburgh in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference final last season. They're experienced and undeterred by adversity.
Playing their first game without the injured Steven Stamkos, the Lightning got a goal and an assist from Alex Killorn and two assists from Valtteri Filppula to win their third straight. It spoiled Dan Bylsma's 500th game as an NHL coach.
Home is not where the Buffalo roam: The Sabres fell to 1-4-2 in KeyBank Center, where they have scored just eight goals in the seven games. They have the NHL's worst home record. Every other team in the league has won at least three games in their home rink.
Bylsma's ledger: With the loss, the Buffalo coach's record fell to 292-161-47. He entered the game fourth all-time in points percentage among coaches with at least 499 games.
Magic mitts: Filppula used nifty backhand passes to set up the first two Tampa Bay goals. He found Nikita Nesterov at 8:15 of the first period and set up Killorn for a power-play goal at 7:39 of the second to make it 2-0.
PK unit finally solved: The Killorn goal was the first of the season at home by an opponent's power play. The Sabres' penalty killers had been 18 for 18 downtown, and joined Nashville as the league's only perfect team in that category. The Lightning got another with two minutes to go as Brayden Point scored off a Johnson pass.
A Defenseman Really Scored: Cody Franson cut the deficit in half with a goal at 12:50 of the second period, a slapshot from the right circle that beat Ben Bishop on the short side. It was the first goal of the season for a Buffalo defenseman and the first of the season for the team's second power-play unit. The Sabres' blueline corps was the only one in the league without a goal.
More Firsts: Evander Kane and Taylor Fedun got assists on the Franson goal, their first points of the season. It was Kane's sixth game while it was Fedun's first as a Sabre after getting called up from Rochester earlier in the day.
Fourth-line follies: The Sabres gave up a killer goal with 17 seconds left in the second period, as Tyler Johnson camped to screen Robin Lehner on Nikita Kucherov's shot that put the Lightning up 3-1. The play developed as William Carrier couldn't handle Nicholas Baptiste's ill-advised pass up the middle in the Buffalo zone and the puck deflected to Kucherov.
Injured list: Ryan O'Reilly missed his third straight game with what the team is terming an oblique injury. Dmitry Kulikov (mid body) missed his fourth straight. It's five straight for Tyler Ennis (double hernia surgery), eight in a row for Zach Bogosian (knee) and, of course, all 17 this season for Jack Eichel (high ankle sprain).
Up next: The homestand continues Saturday night with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town. The Pens will be on the tail end of a back-to-back set, as they're playing Friday night in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders. Johnny Gaudreau-less Calgary is in town Monday and the Detroit Red Wings visit on Wednesday.