Tonight, the Sabres actually held the lead for almost a full 30 seconds as time dwindled away in the 3rd period after a nice 4 way passing play that ended with Vanek depositing the Foligno pass for a 2-1 score late.
Within 25 seconds, it was back to business as usual.
Vanek, instead of attempting to hold the puck in off the offensive zone faceoff, instead did nothing which lead to the breakout by Tampa and ended with St. Louis scoring the tying goal.
The third goal never should have counted as Palat, the eventual goal scorer, did a masterful take down/stick in the skates on Ristolainen that should have been called. Instead, it lead directly to the game winning goal, which every Sabres fan knows likely would have been scored later by Tampa even if the penalty had been called, maybe not in regulation, but probably in overtime.
Two things you couldn't help but notice about Tampa :
1. Ben Bishop sure is adept at handling the puck. Yes, you get the feeling that it will eventually come back to bite him, but it is impressive, even if I still have no idea regarding his general ability at stopping the puck due to Buffalo's anemic offense.
2. Martin St. Louis is a great, great player, but after watching tonight's game, I am not as big a fan as I once was. That impression is due to the at least 5 times during the game that he fell, while barely being touched, sometimes even doing a spinning fall to his knees, as if it was his ode to European soccer players who go down as if they had a limb removed, only to come running back to the field after being taken off on a stretcher. St. Louis was not that bad, but it was close. For specific proof, check what happened when Myers coughed near him on the Sabres 2nd goal as they cross the blue line. It is comical.
While Cody McCormick had a couple of good plays tonight, his overall play is still subpar, at best. Ditto Henrik Tallinder. The sooner the team can replace both of those players, the better.
Johan Larsson is a pitbull on the forecheck. He also has a good burst of speed when attacking and defending. He won't be a scoring force anytime soon, but he is going to be a very effective player.
The Sabres are building a strong base of those type of young players (him, Foligno, Girgensons, Zadorov). They clearly only lack gamebreakers, which is not a small need or something easy to get by any means.
The systemic problem overall with the team is the players continue to handle the puck like it's on fire and will melt their hands if they hold on to it for more than a second or two. I fully understand the frustration that many have with Ennis, but it cannot be easy being him, when he actually tries to hold the puck and make a play while the others simply throw it away so readily and so quickly.
Finally, for the second game in a row, Grigorenko played well. He is coming to life, now that he is off a line with John Scott and McCormick. Gee, imagine that happening. Who would have thunk it?