Game 54: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 2-1.

There were a grand total of four penalties in this game. The Sabres had three, while the Lightning had one. And the lone Lightning penalty wasn't called until 15:27 of the third period. This was a very cleanly played game for Tampa Bay.

It was also very much a coast-to-coast kind of game as well. There weren't many breaks in play, and there was a whole lot of skating. The Lightning carried the play for most of the first and second periods, and it was more evenly played in the third between the two teams. Still, at times it was like watching a tennis match.

Steven Stamkos had the game-winning goal and an assist on Steve Downie's goal - both scored in the second period. Stamkos, however, had only 30 seconds less ice time than Victor Hedman. While it's not unusual for a top defenseman to play almost half a game in ice time, it is unusual for a forward to do so. And letting him do that in the first game of back-to-back road games is a bit odd.

Defensemen often play more than forwards for two basic reasons. One, there are fewer defensive pairs (three) than offensive lines (four). But also, it takes less energy to skate backwards than it does to skate forward. The technique is more difficult, but once you get that down then skating backwards is often faster and definitely isn't as strenuous.

Even still, I have to question why anyone would let one of your top players play so much when it won't benefit them in the end due to the schedule. Yes, Stamkos had a good game - he had seven shots on goal, won 47% of his faceoffs, and played well defensively. But logically, you would think that tire him out by the end of the game in Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Overall, this was a good game for the Lightning - both offensively and defensively. It was a fairly complete game for them. Hopefully, they can string a few more of these along this season. Towards the end, there was almost a playoff atmosphere to everything.

The downside is that Matt Gilroy didn't play the last eight minutes or so of the second period, and did not play the third. He has one of those 'upper body' injuries. Hedman was banged up a big in the third, but stayed in the game. So the mysterious Evan Oberg may be called up again very soon, however, Marc-Andre Bergeron is healthy so his press box services may not be needed.

There's speculation that Ryan Malone may be in the lineup against Pittsburgh, but nothing is definite at this time.

The next game is tomorrow, 12 February, at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will be available at 6:30 pm, so stop in and say hi, won't you?

Lightning vs Sabres coverage

Lightning vs Sabres recap

Lightning vs Sabres boxscore

Die By The Blade