Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres game preview
TV: FOX Sports Sun
Time: Pregame coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay and Buffalo each got a glimpse in their openers of the direction toward which the NHL is trending.
The Lightning began defense of their Eastern Conference title by surviving the league’s first 3-on-3 overtime period, and 18-year-old Jack Eichel scored the first of what the Sabres believe will be many goals during a long career.
Tampa now looks to continue the same old story of beating Buffalo by winning a fifth consecutive meeting Saturday night in upstate New York.
Defenseman Jason Garrison scored his second goal on a breakaway at 2:17 of a wild up-and-down overtime session to give the Lightning a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday, the first time teams played 3 on 3 since the NHL implemented the change for this season to cut down on shootouts.
Ryan Callahan added a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Drouin finished with two assists.
Ben Bishop made 23 saves and stopped his second penalty shot of the game in the extra period.
"He was the first star for sure," Garrison said of Bishop. "Those penalty shots were huge and amongst those he stopped plenty of Grade-A chances, so we’ve got to clean those up for next game."
Bishop, who won a career-high 40 games while helping guide Tampa to the Stanley Cup Final last season, is expected to be back in net for this contest. He has a 1.64 goals-against average while winning his last six starts against the Sabres.
"It’s always great to get off to a good start," Bishop said. "Now we have to go take care of it on the road."
He’ll get his first look at Eichel, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft after winning the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman at Boston University. Eichel scored on the power play in the third period Thursday to bring the Sabres within a goal before they fell 3-1 to Ottawa.
"It was a special moment, something I’ll never forget," Eichel said. "But it’s tough to really enjoy it when you don’t win the game."
Evander Kane appeared to tie it less than two minutes later, but Senators coach Dave Cameron used his coach’s challenge – another new rule implemented for this season – to determine Zemgus Girgensons had gone offside prior to the goal.
It was disallowed, helping to spoil the debuts of Eichel and new coach Dan Bylsma.
"I think just our compete wasn’t there, we weren’t hard enough on the puck," Kane said. "They outworked us, outskated us and obviously there was a higher sense of urgency in the third period and we need to have that from the start."
Buffalo also might be without its starting goaltender for a while. Robin Lehner, acquired from Ottawa with forward David Legwand for a first-round pick in June, made 11 saves before suffering an apparent left leg injury midway through the second period.
Chad Johnson came on in relief and likely will start this contest. Bylsma said Lehner’s injury "doesn’t look like it’s short term," but there’s been no word about a specific amount of time he’ll miss.
It may not matter who’s in net given how the Lightning have dominated recent meetings. Tampa has outscored the Sabres 15-2 while winning four straight. Captain Steven Stamkos has five goals and three assists in his last six against Buffalo.