The Tampa Bay Lightning took another step in the right direction as they shutout the Buffalo Sabres 5-0. Although the team felt like the overtime loss to Boston was a building block, ending a four game skid was another one step in the process of improving their game heading into the playoffs. Five different Lightning players would grab goals. These included Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat who broke long goal droughts. In addition to all the offense, the Lightning also defended very well and Brian Elliot was spectacular. It was a very well rounded effort for the Bolts who leap frogged the Bruins and back into third place in the division.
Drought’s end in the first.
Many Lightning players have had their fair share of slumps. However, none longer than Ondrej Palat, who snapped a 28 game goal drought with a goal in the first. Palat known more for his hard work and 200 foot game, has always seemed to come up with timely goals. However, Palat had not scored since January 11th against Buffalo. So it was only fitting that he would snap his goalless streak against against the Sabres. It also came just 17 seconds after another drought ended. Corey Perry netted his 17th of the year ending a 16 game skid. It was much needed as the Lightning had allowed the first goal in four of their last is games.
More in the Second
The Lightning continued to score in the second period. Brandon Hagel picked up his third as a Bolt just 1:12 into the period. He would get a little puck luck as it bounced off a stick and right to Anthony Cirelli. Although Cirelli couldn’t tap it in, the rebound kicked right to Hagel who put it in on the backhand. Just over three minutes later Nikita Kucherov would score his fourth in his last six games to make it 4-0. He was set up beautifully by Ryan McDonagh, who returned from missing eight games. Despite the production from all four lines, it wasn’t a perfect period. The Sabres pushed back near the end of the frame with numerous chances in the final minute. However due to the superb play of Elliot, and good team defense, they were able to get out of the period unscathed.
Elliot Slams the Door.
Brian Elliot continued his string of excellent play Sunday evening by earning his first shutout a a member of the Lightning. Elliot stopped all 28 of Buffalo’s shots, including a diving save halfway through the first. It is extremely difficult to be consistent at the goaltending position when playing as infrequently as Elliot has. However, Elliot is doing it at a high level. He’s won three out of his last five, and has a save percentage of .946 in that span. He’s given the Lightning the chance to win games and Sunday was no different.
Its a Step
There was a lot to like about the Lightning’s game Sunday. It was a well-rounded complete effort. Minus the last five minutes of the second, the Bolts played well in every facet of the game. However, the Lightning did what good teams do which is beat teams beneath you. Although the Lightning’s process still has some work to do, stopping the four game skid in resounding fashion is a great first step.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will play one game on the road before returning back home. Tampa Bay will head to Dallas to face the Stars Tuesday evening before returning to square off with the Anaheim Ducks. The game against Anaheim will start mark the start of a five game home stand as the playoffs draw ever closer.
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