TAMPA — The Sabres may have taken more shots with their fists than their sticks Thursday night.
Two days after losing 2-1 in a shootout to Buffalo, the Lightning dominated the Sabres in a 5-0 win, outshooting them 35-13 in front of 17,767 at Amalie Arena. And it wasn't even that close.
Tampa Bay (18-6-3) blew open the game with three second-period goals, then fought off — literally — the frustrated Sabres in a chippy third period that included 106 combined penalty minutes. By the end, Tampa Bay had just nine players left on its bench.
"If teams are going to play like that and kind of test us physically, guys aren't going to back down," captain Steven Stamkos said. "The strength of our game is utilizing our speed and skill and playing the game. When things get out of hand like that, it's obviously because other teams are frustrated and we've been doing something right."
The Sabres entered winners of six of their past seven but were outmatched in this one. At one point they went 22 minutes, 32 seconds without a shot on goal, spanning the first and second periods. Goalie Ben Bishop picked up his first shutout of the season with just 13 saves. "That was a pretty easy one for me," he said, smiling.
Like Tuesday, Tampa Bay controlled the second period, holding a 14-3 shot advantage. This time, however, it was able to capitalize, putting three past Jhonas Enroth. Stamkos tallied his 16th goal of the season — and the 249th of his career — after a smooth cross-crease pass from Ryan Callahan. Brenden Morrow scored for the second time in his past three games, set up by a shake-and-bake move, and shot, by rookie Jonathan Drouin. Defenseman Jason Garrison scored with a rocket point shot.
"We had it rolling," coach Jon Cooper said. "Guys were feeling it."
Stamkos said it was one of the best periods of the year for the Lightning, which is 11-2-1 at home. "We wanted to beat them and show everyone why we're one of the top teams in the league, and I think we put that on display in the second period," Stamkos said. "That's what won us the game."
The third period got ugly. It started when defenseman Mike Weber took off Radko Gudas' helmet and put him in a headlock. Gudas, the Lightning's leader in penalty minutes, didn't retaliate. "Didn't want to take a stupid penalty," he said. "It's 4-0. No point for us to start anything."
But the Sabres did, with Brett Connolly and Cedric Paquette fighting and six players getting 10 minute misconducts. "That's hockey," Cooper said. "Stuff happens." With how this one ended, remember the Lightning and Sabres face each other three more times this season, with the next meeting New Year's Eve. Guessing they won't seal it with a kiss.
First—1, TB, Gudas 2 (Johnson), 2:33. Penalties—Hedman, TB (holding), 3:55.
Second—2, TB, Stamkos 16 (Callahan, Killorn), 4:28. 3, TB, Morrow 2 (Drouin, Sustr), 5:39. 4, TB, Garrison 3 (Stamkos, Sustr), 13:40. Penalties—Zadorov, Buf (hooking), :45.
Third—5, TB, Connolly 5 (Filppula, Stamkos), 18:55 (pp). Penalties—Johnson, TB (holding), 2:46; Foligno, Buf (roughing), 6:42; Weber, Buf (slashing, roughing), 7:54; Strachan, Buf, major (fighting), 7:54; Callahan, TB (roughing), 7:54; Stamkos, TB (slashing, roughing), 7:54; Connolly, TB, major (fighting), 7:54; Girgensons, Buf, major (fighting), 8:58; Zadorov, Buf, minor-misconduct (roughing), 8:58; Hedman, TB, minor-misconduct (interference), 8:58; Paquette, TB, major (fighting), 8:58; McCormick, Buf, minor-misconduct (cross-checking), 11:25; Kaleta, Buf, misconduct, 11:25; Morrow, TB, misconduct, 11:25; Boyle, TB, misconduct, 11:25; Ristolainen, Buf (delay of game), 14:18; Weber, Buf (tripping), 17:52; Myers, Buf (slashing), 18:17. Shots on Goal—Buf 5-3-5—13. TB 8-14-13—35. Power-play opportunities—Buf 0 of 3; TB 1 of 6. Goalies—Buf, Enroth 6-10-1 (35 shots-30 saves). TB, Bishop 16-3-2 (13-13).