BUFFALO, N.Y. — When Jon Cooper coached at AHL Norfolk and Syracuse, and Alex Killorn was one of his players, Cooper told the left wing often he had an NHL-quality shot.
Now that both are with the Lightning, Cooper lamented, "He doesn't use it."
He did Tuesday night, scoring his first goal of the season on a backhand from the slot 1:50 into overtime for a 3-2 victory over the Sabres at the First Niagara Center.
"Just lucky enough to sell the shot," Killorn said.
It's tough to call a win in Game 3 of the season big, but this one really was.
Tampa Bay already had beaten the Blackhawks, last season's Stanley Cup champions, during its season-opening road trip that also included a game with Cup finalist Boston. And the Sabres entered Tuesday's game 0-3-0 with two goals total.
A loss would have been an opportunity wasted.
But by gaining four of a possible six points on the trip, the Lightning (2-1-0) set itself up well for seven straight games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum beginning Thursday.
"These are the games you have to take advantage of," Cooper said. "This will be a big test for us."
Tyler Johnson scored his first goal of the season for the Lightning, which also got a huge boost from Teddy Purcell's power-play goal 5:43 into the third period that tied the score 2-2.
Purcell's goal came 22 seconds after Sabres forward Thomas Vanek was called for high-sticking on defenseman Matt Carle, and 22 seconds after a late whistle blew the play dead as Buffalo's Jamie McBain's wrist shot beat goalie Ben Bishop. Had McBain's goal counted, the score would have been 3-1.
Purcell considered the call, which was upheld by the NHL, "the turning point of the game." Cooper called it "a big turn of events."
"It was tough," Cooper said. "The (referee's) arm was up, but it was a late whistle, so that's what got everybody up in arms. The way it played out was a big momentum swing for us."
It wasn't all gravy for the Lightning. It couldn't cash in on numerous scoring chances despite a 34-23 shot advantage, though goalie Jhonas Enroth had a lot to do with that. And it gave up two power-play goals to a team that was 0-for-13 with the man advantage.
"We had chances to get pucks out, and we didn't," Cooper said. "Ultimately that cost us. But overall, I really liked the way we competed."
He really liked Killorn, who got the puck from Eric Brewer and crossed the slot for a better shooting angle.
"You just had to make a read," Killorn said. "I realized I had a better opportunity if I held it for a second. It worked out."
With an NHL-quality goal.
First Period—None. Penalties—Gudas, Tampa Bay, major (fighting), 3:22; Foligno, Buf, major (fighting), 3:22; Myers, Buf (interference), 5:27; Hedman, Tampa Bay, major (fighting), 12:58; Ott, Buf, major (fighting), 12:58; Ennis, Buf (holding), 19:00.
Second Period—1, Buffalo, Hodgson 1 (Vanek, McBain), 11:09 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Johnson 1 (Hedman, Palat), 13:35. 3, Buffalo, McBain 1 (Hodgson, Vanek), 18:34 (pp). Penalties—Labrie, Tampa Bay (hooking), 10:19; Malone, Tampa Bay, major (fighting), 11:23; Weber, Buf, major (fighting), 11:23; Gudas, Tampa Bay (roughing), 14:47; Brewer, Tampa Bay (hooking), 17:11.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Purcell 2 (Malone, St. Louis), 5:43 (pp). Penalties—Gudas, Tampa Bay (interference), 3:10; Vanek, Buf (high-sticking), 5:21.
Overtime—5, Tampa Bay, Killorn 1 (Brewer, Filppula), 1:50. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 10-10-12-2—34. Buffalo 3-7-13-0—23. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 3; Buffalo 2 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 2-0-0 (23 shots-21 saves). Buffalo, Enroth 0-1-1 (34-31). A—18,243 (19,070). T—2:32. Referees—Paul Devorski, Ian Croft. Linesmen—Greg Devorski, Brad Kovachik.