BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Dylan Cozens scored 1:46 into overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres overcame blowing a two-goal lead to secure their first win of the season by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Zemgus Girgensons and Jeff Skinner also scored for Buffalo, and rookie goalie Devon Levi stopped 21 shots in rebounding after opening the season with two losses.
Brandon Hagel scored twice for the Lightning, including the overtime-forcing goal with seven seconds left. Jonas Johansson finished with 28 saves as Tampa Bay battled back to avoid being swept on its three-game road trip following losses at Detroit and Ottawa.
The Sabres controlled much of the play in overtime, with Cozens accepting a pass in the high slot. He then skated to the edge of the right circle, where he snapped a hard shot to beat Johansson.
Hagel saved the Lightning a point in the standings with his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
After the Sabres twice failed to clear the zone, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point got the puck at the right boards and flipped it toward the net, where Hagel batted it out of the air toward the net. Levi appeared to make the initial stop, before Hagel took a stab at the puck, and snuck it under the goalie’s left pad.
The Sabres raced to a 2-0 first period lead with Girgensons and Skinner scoring 6 1/2 minutes apart.
Buffalo appeared to have control through the second period, but squandered several opportunities to pad its edge — including a failed 2-on-1 break in which JJ Peterka’s pass was broken up — before Hagel scored with 2:02 left.
Tanner Jeannot forced a turnover behind the Sabres net by digging the puck away from Henri Jokiharju’s stick, and fed Hagel, who was alone in front.
The Lightning lost three straight — and all to Atlantic Division rivals — since a season-opening win over Nashville. They were without captain Steven Stamkos, who missed his second game with a lower-body injury.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper cited the early season outing’s importance following his team’s morning skate by saying: “I don’t want to say Game 4s (of the season) are big games, but this is a big one for us.”
Coach Don Granato provided Levi a third consecutive start to get the 21-year-old accustomed to an NHL routine after spending the previous two seasons at Northeastern. Levi left college in March to sign with Buffalo and closed the season with a 5-2 record.
HE SAID IT
Cooper had this to say when informed Sabres fans were getting anxious over the Sabres’ 0-2 start.
“Well, first of all, the fans shouldn’t be freaking out. Now, if the Bills were 0-2 in a 17-game season, that’s different,” Cooper said, referring to the NFL Buffalo Bills. “In an 82-game season going 0-2, there’s a lot of runway left.”
Lightning: Stamkos, who appeared to be hurt after blocking a shot against Detroit on Saturday, was listed day to day. … C Tyler Motte missed his third-straight game with an upper-body injury.
Sabres: D Mattias Samuelsson (upper body) did not return after appearing in one shift in the third period. … LW Victor Olofsson was a healthy scratch to make room for Tyson Jost to make his season debut.
Lightning: Play next five at home, beginning with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Sabres: Continue four-game homestand hosting the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl