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Losing Streak Ends at Four as Bolts Beat Sabres.

Twenty-seven games out of 43…let that sink in for a moment. That is more than half of the games the Tampa Bay Lightning have played. Why are those numbers important? In 27 games this season, the Lightning have allowed the opposing team to score the first goal of the game. Tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, it happened again for the 27th time. The Lightning also got starting goalie Ben Bishop tonight for the first time in nearly a month. Bishop was 9-0-1 in his previous starts against the Sabres

A bad habit has now become an alarming trend for the Bolts. Just 2:58 into the first period, a series of unfortunate events caused the Lightning to once again fall behind early in the first period. Matt Moulson would get control of a bouncing puck and slip it past Bishop on a 2-on-1. The goal was on Buffalo’s first shot on goal of the game, another bad trend the Lightning have had a few times this season. Less than three minutes later, a beautiful series of passing plays would allow Ondrej Palat a small opening in the net, and he buried the puck to tie the game 1-1. The goal would come once again on the power play, showing why the Lightning have the second-best power play unit in the NHL. Besides the goal by Moulson, the Lightning played a solid first period, outshooting the Sabres 9-6.

The second period would begin a little differently for the Lightning, but with a similar name for this game. Palat would notch his second goal of the game and his ninth of the season five minutes into the second. With nearly 13 minutes gone in the period, Nikita Kucherov would get his 17th goal of the season, while Palat notched his third point of the game with an assist on the goal to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead. As the clock wound down to zero, Victor Hedman and Marcus Foligno would drop the gloves in front of Bishop for a good ol’ knock down, drag-out fight. Per that was only Hedman’s fifth career fight, and his first since 2013-2014 against Steve Ott.

Foligno and Hedman would both begin the third period in their respective penalty boxes following the heavy-handed fight. While Tampa ended the second period ahead in goals and shots on goal, Buffalo would come out firing in the third. With the mid-way point barely gone, the Sabres would get some good pressure in front of Bishop and Evander Kane would get one past the Lightning goalie to cut the Bolts’ lead to one. As the period went along, the fighting would continue between the two teams. With less than three minutes in the game Kane would get a high sticking penalty when he clipped Bishop. Unfortunately for Kane, he decided to argue with the referees, causing him to also get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. With time winding down, Buffalo would pull goalie Anders Nilsson to get the extra skater. With an empty net, Anton Stralman would slide the puck down the ice to get the empty net goal and seal the game for the Lightning by a 4-2 final.

Next Up: John Tortorella and the 28-8-4 Columbus Blue Jackets come into Amalie Arena tomorrow night, as the Lightning honor Martin St Louis by retiring his jersey into the rafters.


Three Stars of the Game

1st Star – Ondrej Palat: Two goals and one assist to lead the Lightning and end their four-game losing streak.

2nd Star –  Nikita Kucherov: Continues to be the lynch pin of this team in Stamkos’ absence.  He added an assist in tonight’s game on one of Palat’s goals.

3rd Star – Ben Bishop: Only allowed two goals in his first game back in nearly a month. Improves to 10-0-1 in his career against Buffalo.

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