Game 20: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres
In the third game in four nights, the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to Buffalo and came out winners. 2-1 the final from HSBC Arena
This was the finale of their three game road trip to the northeast, gaining all of a possible six points after victories against the Isles, Flyers and Sabres.
I think the biggest story of this game wasn't so much the goals or how they were scored -- or the one that was nullified for that matter, more on that stuff in a bit. No, what was most telling and most clear to see was who was providing the tenacity out there.
While Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos led the team in ice time, it was non marquee players who provided the biggest punch and the most reliable efforts on the night.
In fact, even though Marty had over 21 minutes of ice time, he was largely invisible on ice tonight. Or at least it felt that way.
The guys you kept noticing where Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson, Dominic Moore, Dana Tyrell, call-up Blair Jones and Adam Hall. It would be Purcell who put the Lightning on the board late in the 1st period, redirecting a Randy Jones shot.
It would be Hall who would score the game winning goal for the Bolts in the second. Hall's goal was a thing of beauty in that he capitalized on Buffalo goaltender Patrick Lalime's superb defensive botch up -- a pass intended for Jordan Leopold went instead to Hall. Adam had to work for it but... Boom.
While I've noted scoring, the game action swung like a pendulum through this game. The first dominated by Buffalo (even though the Lightning out-shot them 10-7 for the period), the 2nd was the Lightning's period, and then thing swung back to Buffalo in the 3rd...
Ultimately, Mike Smith was the difference maker. He gave up the Thomas Vanek's goal in the 1st, less than 5 minutes in. The next 29 shots that Buffalo would register would be for not though. Though the result was great fo the Lightning, it continues the inconsistency of netminding in Tampa. Who can they consistently rely on? It's not clear.
I mentioned above that there was a called off goal... While there is no specific replay clip of Tim Connolly's would-be goal, I can tell you the highlights from tonight's game does contain the waved-off goal. Very awkward, but bogus in the end.
The Lightning return home for a two-game homestand... And it will be a challenging one at that. They'll be taking on the Boston Bruins on Monday Night. 7:30 start time for that one at Times Palace.