That, they do. Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning proved that resiliency is key when it comes to getting the job done this season as two goals late in the third period propelled the Bolts past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.
The scoring tonight didn’t open up until 12:48 in the first period when Lightning center Tyler Johnson buried one in the net past Miller with the assists from center Valtteri Filppula and defenseman Matt Carle.
The Bolts would continue to lead for the rest of the period.
For the most part, the Bolts were able to stay out of the penalty box.
In the first period, the only Lightning penalty came at the hands of right wing B.J. Crombeen for Interference.
In the second period, the Bolts would only see 2 penalties; one of Ryan Malone for Roughing, and the other to Nate Thompson for Boarding. All in all, the Bolts only spent a total of 6 minutes in the box tonight. This is 10 minutes less than the Bolts have been averaging this season, which is a very good thing.
The Lightning spent just under half of the second period on the Power Play. The Sabres had 4 of their 6 penalties tonight during the second frame. Unfortunately for the Lightning, they were unable to capitalize on any of those opportunities. The Bolts went 1 for 6 on the PP tonight.
The lone goal in the second period came at the hands of Sabres right wing Brian Flynn at about 12:58 in the period after Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop lost his stick, leaving him with very few blocking options. The assists on the goal went to center Cody McCormick and left wing Ville Leino.
When the buzzer sounded on the second period, the score would remain tied 1-1.
This is where things started to get sticky for the Lightning.
At 12:46 in the third period, it would be Sabres captain Thomas Vanek who would strike first, putting the Sabres on top for the first time tonight. The assists on Vanek’s goal go to left wing Marcus Foligno and center Zemgus Girgensons.
As our warrior Captain Martin St. Louis said post-game, the good teams always find a way to win.
At 14:09 in the third, just under 2 minutes after the goal from Vanek, St. Louis was able to find a way past Miller and into the back of the net scoring his 6th goal of the season with assists from Stamkos and defenseman Radko Gudas.
With the all-too-real threat of overtime looming, the Bolts pushed harder and were able to pull it out in regulation with what would turn out to be the game winning goal from left wing Ondrej Palat at 15:55 in the third. The lone assist on Palat’s goal with to linemate Tyler Johnson.
That was just a 100% blue collar work ethic goal, and they deserved every ounce of that.” Coach Cooper said of that goal in his Post-Game comments.
A win is a win no matter how you look at it, but there is something that needs to be addressed before the Bolts roll into Sunrise tomorrow night to face the Panthers.
That would be the egregious amount of overpassing.
Like I said in my preview for the game, I will concede that not every opportunity is a legitimate scoring opportunity, and there are occasions where shooting the puck is not the best course of action; however, the Lightning have spent many a power play just passing the puck from one player to another.
While playing keep away does kill time on the clock (if that is your goal), and it does keep the puck in the offensive zone for an extended period of time, 9 times out of 10 it results in an unnecessary turnover with no attempt at a goal.
While I would love to see Steven Stamkos win another “Rocket” Richard Trophy, or Martin St. Louis win another Art Ross Trophy, I want a Stanley Cup even more. The team has got to stop trying so feverishly to set up one singular person and start making more shots on the goal; especially on the Power Play.
While it may seem like the Bolts almost allowed the 2-10-1 Buffalo Sabres to get one over on them, St. Louis said something that made total sense in his post-game interview.
The good teams always find a way to win.” St. Louis said. “It’s not always going to be perfect. We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for results.”
Results are something that the Bolts have done well with so far this season. With a record of 7-3-0 so far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference Standings. While I know that it is way too early in the season to be getting all giddy about the NHL Standings, you’ll have to admit that when your team fell apart just prior to this point last season, seeing numbers like this is a real positive.
The Lightning outshot the Sabres 39-22. They also came out on top when it came to the amount of Faceoffs won with 27-23.
Goaltenders on both sides of the ice put on quite the show tonight.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop blocked 20 of the 22 shots that were brought against him tonight. This left him with a Save Percentage of .909.
On the other side of the ice, Ryan Miller had a much more daunting task on his hands. Miller blocked 36 of the 39 shots that were brought on him by the Lightning tonight. I thoroughly believe that had Miller been any other goaltender, the Lightning would have run away with tonight’s game, never looking back. If there was anyone to be called out for the Sabres’ loss tonight, that man is not Ryan Miller.
Next up for the Lightning, they head into Sunrise tomorrow night, well today at this point, but you know what I mean, to take on the in-state rival Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center.
Three Stars of the Game:
What did you think of tonight’s showdown between our Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres? What do you think the Bolts are going to have to do to come out on top against the Panthers and extend our win streak to 3? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.