Lightning 3, Sabres 1
Lightning coach Guy Boucher is pleased with his team’s improving
play in close games.
Steven Stamkos scored his 25th goal of the season, Martin St.
Louis had an empty-net goal and two assists and Tampa Bay beat the
Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Saturday night.
”If you want to win championships, those are the games that
you’ve got to go get,” Boucher said. ”You’ve got to know how to
Tampa Bay also got a goal from Simon Gagne. Mike Smith stopped
22 shots, helping the Lightning win for just the second time in
their last 11 homes games against Buffalo.
”What can I say? These guys are just battling every night,”
Tampa Bay is 5-2-1 in its last eight games, including four
”I think we’re taking pride the last couple weeks in our
defensive play,” Stamkos said.
Jason Pominville had a goal and Ryan Miller made 34 saves for
the Sabres. Miller was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots
in the first period of a 6-2 loss Friday night at Florida.
”It’s disappointing,” Sabres right wing Mike Grier said of the
consecutive losses. ”We were playing fairly well coming in, but we
dug ourselves a hole.”
Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier failed to score on a
penalty shot with 5:45 remaining in the third.
Gagne put the Lightning up 1-0 when he lifted a low-slot
backhander over Miller during a power play with 7:44 left in the
second. Miller lost for the fourth time in 20 career decisions
against Tampa Bay.
Stamkos made it 2-0 with 1:50 left in the second, scoring from
the slot off a pass from St. Louis, who had received a pass through
the slot from Ryan Malone.
Pominville cut it to 2-1 when he scored an in-close goal with
47.7 seconds to go in the second. The right wing has 13 goals and
29 points in 21 games against the Lightning.
”I just didn’t think we won enough battles,” Buffalo coach
Lindy Ruff said.
Tampa Bay went up 3-1 on St. Louis’ goal with 1.6 seconds to
play. Stamkos assisted on the goal for his 21st assist this
Miller stopped Dana Tyrell’s shot during a short-handed
breakaway 4 minutes into second. The goalie also stopped another
short-handed chance by Tyrell early in the third.
Tampa Bay outshot Buffalo 18-5, including five shots by Stamkos,
during the second.
”The way we’re winning is great,” Lightning center Nate
Thompson said. ”We’re playing from the start to the end. These
tight games, we’re getting contributions from everyone.”
NOTES: Buffalo C Tim Connolly broke his nose and went to the
locker room after a check into the boards by Thompson 90 seconds
into the game. Connolly returned for the start of the second
period. ”Badly fractured,” Ruff said. … Gagne has 13 goals and
30 points in 31 games against Buffalo. … Sabres D Shaone
Morrisonn (concussion) has resumed practicing with the team. He has
missed six straight games.