BUFFALO, N.Y. — The box score from the Lightning's 4-3 overtime victory over the Sabres on Saturday night will show Steven Stamkos with two goals — including the winner 1:53 into the extra period — and three points.
What it will not show is the third goal the captain scored at the First Niagara Center, an own goal off the boards and into an empty net on a delayed penalty to give Buffalo a 3-2 third-period lead.
As the last Sabres player to touch the puck, Cory Conacher got the goal. He also was the player headed to the penalty box.
"I've seen it a couple of times over the years," Stamkos said, "but I've never been involved in one."
"Funny how things work out," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's the guy who has a big part of bailing you out."
It was the 11th straight game with points for the Lightning (41-24-9), which also stayed two points behind the second-place Canadiens in the Atlantic Division in the race for home ice in their expected first-round playoff series.
But getting the win took more than Stamkos, who has 23 goals on the season and nine in 12 games since returning from a broken right tibia.
Ryan Callahan scored on a five-on-three power play with 9:53 left in the third to tie the score 3-3. Alex Killorn also scored. Ben Bishop had 25 saves for his 36th win.
Defenseman Eric Brewer stole a goal from Johan Larsson, whose shot toward an open net hit Brewer's stick, which kept the score 3-3 with 3:01 left in the third.
What was going through Brewer's mind? "Panic," he said.
Tampa Bay must address what Brewer conceded is "an issue, for sure," the slow starts that plagued the team the past three games.
Saturday, Tampa Bay fell behind 2-0 in the first period thanks to a lack of competitive urgency and poor puck management, namely turnovers by Victor Hedman and Mike Kostka, respectively.
But the real drama came with 8:14 left in the third on the delayed penalty when Stamkos, in the Sabres zone, fired cross ice to Kostka. The puck skipped over Kostka's stick, deflected off the side boards and slid into the empty net.
"A little too much sauce on it," Stamkos said.
"Nothing you could do about it," Kostka said. "You're watching it, and it's inevitable it's going to go in."
Callahan tied the score with a re-direct of Teddy Purcell's pass, and Stamkos rifled the winner, also on the power play, as Tampa Bay improved to 7-0-4 during its points streak.
Even so, "we have to find a way to play a full 60 minutes," Stamkos said. "We have to make sure we're keeping up to par."
First—1, Buff, D'Agostini 5 (Ristolainen, Larsson), 12:20. 2, Buff, Hodgson 17 (Ehrhoff), 14:07. 3, TB, Killorn 16 (Kucherov, Carle), 17:52. 4, TB, Stamkos 22 (Brown, Gudas), 19:46. Penalties—Palat, TB (interference), 8:31.
Second—None. Penalties—Hedman, TB (delay of game), 4:54; Larsson, Buf (holding), 14:46.
Third—5, Buff, Conacher 7, 8:14 (en). 6, TB, Callahan 16 (Purcell, Stamkos), 10:07 (pp). Penalties—Stamkos, TB (tripping), 1:07; Conacher, Buf (hooking), 8:14; Weber, Buf (cross-checking), 9:14.
OT—7, TB, Stamkos 23 (Filppula, Purcell), 1:53 (pp). Penalties—Stafford, Buf (hooking), :59. Shots on Goal—TB 9-13-10-1—33. Buff 8-12-8-0—28. PP opportunities—TB 2 of 4; Buff 0 of 3. Goalies—TB, Bishop 36-11-7 (28 shots-26 saves). Buff, Hackett 1-2-1 (33-29).