NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Tampa Bay |
(Thursday, March 18th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Buffalo 1
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 25 shots to lead
the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the St.
Pete Times Forum.
Tim Taylor posted a goal and an assist while Cory Stillman also scored for
Tampa Bay, which snapped a brief two-game skid. Martin St. Louis added an
empty-net goal for the Lightning, who are now tied for the overall NHL lead
with the Detroit Red Wings. Both teams have 97 points.
Already crowned the Southeast Division champions, Tampa Bay also increased its
lead for the top spot in the Eastern Conference to three points over the
Mika Noronen allowed two goals on 25 shots for the Sabres, who failed to earn
a point for just the second time in nine games (4-2-0-3). Buffalo still trails
the idle New York Islanders by four points for the eighth and final playoff
spot in the East.
"He (Noronen) made some real good saves," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff of his
goaltender. "You can't look at any of the goals and say it was a bad goal."
A great effort by Dave Andreychuk paved the way for a 2-1 Tampa Bay edge
before one minute had been played in the third stanza. He won a face off at
the right circle, gained control of the puck and skated past the opposing
centerman toward the net.
Andreychuk then quickly feathered a pass into the goal mouth before Taylor
easily deposited his seventh goal past a sprawling Noronen and into a
partially open net for a one-goal Tampa edge just 52 ticks into the period.
"(Andreychuk) made a fantastic play in the face off...and made a great play
to set up Taylor," said Lightning head coach John Tortorella.
Buffalo put a decent amount of pressure on Khabibulin throughout the
remainder, including 12 shots, but could not put the puck past him. St. Louis
pushed the puck into the empty cage in the final minute to seal the victory.
"Late in the third period, we had a couple of shots that missed the net," said
Ruff. "It was a game we could have won."
Tampa Bay is now 4-1-1 in its last six meetings with Buffalo.
The Sabres outshot the Lightning 10-4 in the opening period while both teams
gained a pair of power-play chances, but the contest remained scoreless after
the opening 20 minutes.
"It wasn't our best (effort) in the first period," said Tampa Bay defenseman
Stillman finally cracked the scoreboard with under five minutes to go in the
second period. Brad Richards picked up a pass from Pavel Kubina behind the net
and quickly fed in front, where Stillman's one-timer lit the lamp at 15:07.
However, it took Buffalo just 55 seconds to respond. Jochen Hecht released a
wrister from along the right half-wall. The puck deflected off of Lightning
defenseman Brad Lukowich's stick and flew up high past Khabibulin with 3:58 to
play in the middle session.
Tampa has earned a point in 19 of its last 21 games (15-2-2-2)...Buffalo had
played in four straight overtime games (1-0-0-3) prior to this contest...St.
Louis, who entered the game as the league's leading scorer, tied the club
record for most points in a season, set by Brian Bradley in 1992-93, with
86 (35 goals, 51 assists)...The Lightning were scoreless on five power-play
chances, while the Sabres could not covert on four opportunities with the
03/18 23:52:22 ET