Lightning fall to Sabres in controversial 7-4 loss

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With the score 3-2, Buffalo forward Drew Stafford skated near the crease and appeared to slew foot Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson. With Roloson down, and no call coming from the officiating crew of Brad Watson and Ghislain Hebert, Jordan Leopold had a wide open net to shoot the puck into to tie the game at three a piece.

"I just stood up to challenge the shot, and the next thing you know I am down on my back," Roloson said. "For me, I don't know what happened so I can't really say anything about it except that it's unfortunate."

What was more unfortunate was what happened next, as the Lightning never seemed to regain their composure after the controversial call, giving up the next four goals to the Sabres before Vincent Lecavalier stopped the bleeding with a late goal, making the final score 7-4.

To add to the bad news for the Lightning, the team lost Ryan Malone and Matt Smaby to "middle body" injuries. Neither returned to the game, and coach Boucher hinted that Malone may be out for a bit with a different injury than the one he just returned from. Malone is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

As for the game, it was a disappointing result on a night that saw both Washington and Pittsburgh also lose, something that was not lost on Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.

"We had the game at 3-1," Stamkos said. "We started the game great. That was a tough second goal to give up. It gave them some life. I don't think we panicked, we came out in the third period and still had the one goal lead. Its a tough one when our goalie gets knocked down. I haven't seen the replay so I cant really comment on how that happened, but its a tough one to swallow. After that we just kind of lost our composure."

Lightning head coach Guy Boucher had one word to describe the end of that game: "weird." Although it may not be strong enough, it fits.

"Some weird things started happening," Boucher said. "Smaby got a weird injury, then Malone, who has been playing outstanding, he made that third goal happen, and then after that, he is out [for the game]. Then Downie gets hurt and he's rattled, and it started to be a weird game."

At the same time, Boucher didn't want this loss to be put on anyone but his team.

"We don't want to blame anyone but ourselves."

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Tuesday night was a tale of two games at the St. Pete Times Forum when the Lightning took on the Buffalo Sabres. The first two periods went entirely in the Lightning's favor. The wheels fell off in the third period behind some creative officiating and multiple breakdowns, with the Bolts ultimately falling to Buffalo 7-4.

Tampa Bay jumped ahead early in the game on two goals from Sean Bergenheim and a goal from Vincent Lecavalier to extend the lead to 3-1 in the middle of the second. Buffalo would answer back with a goal from Thomas Vanek to put the Sabres within striking distance.

That's when things got interesting in a hurry for the Lightning.

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