The Tampa Bay Lightning snapped their four-game losing streak in a big way with a dominant 5-0 shutout victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The struggling Sabres have played with a lot more life in recent weeks but the Lightning were able to come away with a very complete performance.
In the win, the five goals were scored by five different players and all four lines would score as well.
Let’s break down what happened.
1. Elliott Gets the Shutout
A day after his 37th birthday, Brian Elliott earned his first shutout as a member of the Lightning. Elliott stopped all 28 Buffalo shots that came his way. The efforts of all the Lightning players in front of him were put toward securing the shutout for the veteran netminder. He has been everything you can ask for in a backup goalie and was more than deserving of having a shutout to his name.
2. Bumping the Slump
In the first period, a pair of Lightning forwards snapped goal-less droughts 17 seconds apart to put the Lightning ahead 2-0. Corey Perry scored his first goal in 16 games and Ondrej Palat scored as well after not scoring in his last 28 games. The frustration for Palat has been showing after not scoring since January 11th. Hopefully seeing the puck find the back of the net will give him more confidence as the season heads to a close.
3. Return of McDonagh
The Lightning got a huge injection to their lineup by having Ryan McDonagh back on the icd for the first time since March 24th. With McDonagh back in the lineup, the Lightning defense is significantly steadier. You can count on the turnovers being limited and the odd man rushes to be few and far between with McDonagh back on the ice. To top it all off, McDonagh added a beautiful assist to Nikita Kucherov as well on the fourth Lightning goal.
4. Keeping it Simple
Through their recent struggles, the Lightning have beaten themselves at times. In this one, they were forechecking well and creating turnovers. They are at their best when they are getting the puck in deep, pressuring and forcing turnovers. Multiple goals in this game were a result of forcing Buffalo to turn the puck over and making them pay quickly.
5. Getting Back to their Game
We have seen two straight games of the Lightning playing a bit more like we are accustomed to. Sure, this win was only over Buffalo, but the Lightning can take plenty of momentum from this win. They dominated in all aspects of the game and the confidence of the group has to be rising. It is all about the process of the game this time of year rather than the results and the process of the Lightning’s overall play is moving in the right direction.