Stamkos Leads Lightning to 2-1 Win Over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Steven Stamkos had a goal and assist, and the resurgent Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday night for their seventh win in 10 games.
Mathieu Garon made 26 saves, and Steve Downie also scored during the Lightning’s two-goal second period. Tampa Bay (24-24-6) is on a 7-1-2 roll and has earned at least a point in a season-high four straight road games (3-0-1).
Jason Pominville scored Buffalo’s lone goal 7:07 into the third period in a game in which the Sabres came out flat while playing for the third time in four nights. The Sabres managed 13 shots through two periods and 27 overall.
Buffalo failed to earn a point for the first time in seven games (5-1-1), and lost in regulation at home for the first time in 11 (6-1-4), dating to a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Dec. 10.
The Sabres (24-25-6) failed to build off the momentum of a 3-2 shootout victory over Dallas on Friday, when they rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit.
Stamkos played a role in both Lightning goals and extended his point streak to six games — a stretch in which he has five goals and five assists.
He had an assist on Downie’s opening goal 7:31 into the second period. After Ryan Miller got a pad out to stop Stamkos’ shot from the right circle, defenseman Victor Hedman kept the puck in and got a weak shot on net.
Downie stopped the puck at the top of the crease before goalie Ryan Miller could sweep it away, and then spun around and scored into the open right side.
Stamkos then scored his NHL-leading 37th goal less than six minutes later by completing a 2-on-1 break. He was set up by Teddy Purcell, who capitalized on a Sabres turnover in the neutral zone. Driving up the right wing, Purcell fed a pass across to Stamkos, who got of a one-timer as he was falling and beat Miller just inside the left post.
A lack of offense has hurt Buffalo, which has scored two goals or fewer in regulation 15 times in 21 games.
The Sabres had their chances in the third period only to be foiled by Garon, whose best save came with just under 5 minutes left. He slid across the crease in time to get his pad and stick down to stop Pominville’s one-timer from the right circle.
Garon was also fortunate after Sabres defenseman Chris Ehrhoff had the goalie beat with a blast from the top of the right circle, but the puck hit the post with a minute remaining.
Garon had little chance on Pominville’s goal, which came on a broken play. After Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek had the puck poked off his stick as he attempted to split two defenders, Pominville got a shot off from the high slot that sneaked in through a crowd in front.
NOTES: Lightning D Matt Gilroy didn’t return after sustaining an undisclosed upper body injury in the second period. … With Sabres C Cody McCormick out with an upper body injury sustained Friday, rookie forward Zack Kassian played after being recalled from AHL Rochester for a third time this season. The Sabres also loaned rookie C Luke Adam and rookie D T.J. Brennan to Rochester. … Lightning LW Ryan Malone has begun practicing and is day to day. He has missed seventh games with an upper body injury. … Sabres coach Lindy Ruff spent his third game watching from the press box since breaking three ribs in a collision during practice Monday. With assistant James Patrick running the bench, Ruff was healthy enough to ride down the elevator between periods for the first time.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.