Rookie goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away all 28 shots he faced in picking up the first shutout of his NHL career. It's the second shutout at home in a row for the Lightning, who haven't allowed a goal at Amalie Arena since Vladimir Tarasenko potted an empty netter for the St. Louis Blues with 1:05 remaining in their 6-3 win over the Lightning on February 12.
As was the case when Ben Bishop blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on February 27, Vasilevskiy was the beneficiary of excellent special teams, an area that has not exactly been a strength for the Lightning throughout this season. The power play and penalty kill were both equally spotless with each going 2-for-2 on the night.
The Lightning opened things up at 16:37 of the first, on a goal from Steven Stamkos who was assisted by Alex Killorn and Andrej Sustr. Although he wasn't credited with an official assist, the entire play was made possible by the aggressive forecheck from a hustling Ryan Callahan forcing a turnover.
The first intermission arrived finding the Lightning up 1-0, although it was a fairly evenly played period, with Tampa Bay holding a slight edge of 12-10 in shots.
However, the second period was all Lightning, with the Bolts outshooting the Sabres 17-4.
Callahan scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 2:48, after an extended, uninterrupted game of catch between Tyler Johnson and Valtteri Filppula behind the Buffalo net.
They cashed in again at 4:24, just before the ensuing 5-on-4 ended. This time, it was Victor Hedman scoring with help from Anton Stralman and Ondrej Palat.
At 15:03, newly acquired defenseman Braydon Coburn introduced himself to the home crowd by fighting Buffalo's Marcus Foligno.
"I thought it was a pretty good entrance. Come in and lay a big hit and get in a scrap, gets your fans on your side right away. I thought he was steady. He was solid, guys didn't get around him." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
"It's a little nervous. You know, it's a new color (laughs), new teammates, a new system. I felt like my game was a little bit hesitant at times, but I think as I get more comfortable with what they are doing here, I'll definitely feel more comfortable." - Coburn
The second period ended with what would be the eventual final score of 3-0, Lightning.
Tampa Bay wasn't assessed any penalties until the third period, a high-sticking call against Brenden Morrow at 7:08 and a hooking call on Coburn at 19:28. The PK was up to the challenge both times and Vasilevskiy fought off the 14 shots he faced in the final frame to earn the shutout.
The Lightning will be in action again on Thursday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Bishop picked up his and the team's first shutout of the season with a 5-0 win over Buffalo back on December 4th.
- This was the fifth and final regular season meeting between Buffalo and Tampa Bay, with the Lightning taking the series with a 4-0-1 record, including 3-0-0 at home.
- Tampa Bay is now 13-23-4 with three ties all-time at home against Buffalo.
- The Lightning will play nine games at home in March, the most they will have had in any month this season.
- In case you haven't done the math, the Lightning haven't allowed a goal at home in 121:05.
- Coburn logged 16:29 of ice time in his Lightning debut, with three hits, a takeaway and two blocked shots to go along with two penalties (seven minutes).
- Johnson is the only player among the NHL's top ten scorers who was not a first round draft choice. In fact, he's the only undrafted player to appear among the league's top 20 scorers.
- The Lightning honored Jason Sowell as the 31st Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight's game. Sowell, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Current of Tampa Bay and two other organizations.In 2008, while spending time in California, Sowell heard stories about families struggling to afford the means to have clean laundry. Upholding the perspective that something as simple as clean laundry ought to be considered a basic need for every human being, Sowell sprinted to action. That same year he started The Laundry Project through his non-profit organization Current of Tampa Bay. It is an initiative aimed at assisting low-income families with the cost of laundering their clothes. Since the start of the Laundry Project, Sowell has organized more than 180 projects that have served nearly 20,000 individuals with washing more than 42,900 loads of laundry.His efforts in the Laundry Project have caught the attention of both national and local media with features on NBC Nightly News and My FOX Tampa Bay. He has also been awarded the Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Award for "Best Young Hopeful" in 2011 and the 2014-15 Southern Early Childhood Association "Friend of Children" award. Sowell's designated organization, Current of Tampa Bay Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that started with young adults educating others on current social initiatives and mobilizing them to bring about change. Current of Tampa Bay establishes community groups for awareness and education and organizes local initiatives such as the Laundry Project, Hope for Homes Project and Affordable Christmas.