TAMPA, Fla. – Tyler Myers and Ryan Miller helped give Ron Rolston a memorable night.
Myers scored a go-ahead goal early in third period, Miller made 30 saves, and Rolston won for the first time as Buffalo’s interim coach in the Sabres’ 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
“It was great, especially the way it was done,” Rolston said. “Just the battle level and the competitive nature we had tonight was outstanding. You could just feel it on the bench, the guys, how dialed in they were. I’m really happy for our team. We’ve seen a lot of really good signs, and we just needed something to keep us moving in the right direction.”
Myers made it 2-1 from the top of the left circle 52 second into the third after a Tampa Bay turnover. Rolston replaced long-time Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff on Feb. 20.
“It always feels good to score,” Myers said. “It felt unbelievable to get the win after the way things have been going.”
Miller improved to 19-7-0 against the Lightning. The Sabres also got a goal from Cody Hodgson, while Thomas Vanek had two assists.
“I think there’s been some hard work over the course of the season,” Miller said. “The battle was there, but the smarts are coming back around. We didn’t spend as much time running in our zone, and that translates into a game we can win.”
Miller made several quality saves during three short-handed situations, including a 5-on-3, during the second. He also had a point-blank stop on Steven Stamkos in the third.
“The penalty kills in the second period were huge for us,” Hodgson said. “It was a win we earned.”
Tampa Bay finished 0 for 6 on the power play. The Sabres failed to score on their one opportunity.
Stamkos extended his goal-scoring streak to six games with his 14th.
“We had a lot of good chances, and their goalie played well,” said Stamkos, who had eight shots.
Stamkos put the Lightning up 1-0 at 1:24 of the first on a rebound goal from the slot after Miller made a save on Teddy Purcell’s shot.
Hodgson tied it at 1 with 9:58 left in first from behind the net when his pass toward the slot deflected off a Tampa Bay defender and past goalie Mathieu Garon.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating, but we did enough things to win,” Tampa Bay defenceman Victor Hedman said.
Garon stopped 19 shots.
Buffalo had lost in four in a row, including two under Rolston.
“It was good for all of our guys to sit in that room and have that feeling where they did a lot of things right tonight and got rewarded for it,” Rolston said.
Lightning defenceman Sami Salo left in the second with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said he didn’t know how long Salo will be sidelined.
“It was a tough game,” Boucher said. “We lost a defenceman. We got beat by a goaltender.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay C Cory Conacher had an assist, giving the rookie four assists and six points during a six-game point streak. … Vanek has 12 assists and 35 points in 29 games against Tampa Bay. … Lightning LW Ryan Malone, who has sat out nine straight games with an undisclosed lower-body injury, is skating in practice. … Sabres D Jordan Leopold missed his third consecutive game because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.