Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning tops Sabres

TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper had quite a list of things he said Ondrej Palat does well.

He plays defense. He controls the puck. He plays physically.

And for the past few games, Cooper said, Palat has been the Lightning's best player: "He's doing almost everything, but give the kid a cape."

It was fitting, then, that Palat got the winning goal in Saturday night's 3-2 victory over the Sabres in front of an announced crowd of 18,088 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"A great feeling," the rookie left wing said, "just perfect."

It was not an easy win. A power play that would rather pass than shoot was 1-for-6, and the Lightning had 15 puck giveaways and 20 turnovers.

It also needed goals from Marty St. Louis and Palat in 1:46 of the third period to overcome a 2-1 deficit and goaltender Ryan Miller, who was exceptional with 36 saves as Tampa Bay had a 39-22 shot advantage.

Tyler Johnson also scored. Steven Stamkos' pinpoint cross-ice pass set up St. Louis' one-timer, and goalie Ben Bishop made 19 saves as the Lightning (7-3-0) finished a seven-game homestand 5-2-0.

"We're not looking for perfection; we're looking for results," St. Louis said. "You try to correct mistakes as you go and be honest with how you assess your game individually and collectively. After that, it's finding ways. We've done that."

As has Palat, 22, in his 24th NHL game, who plays so efficiently it sometimes is difficult to spot his contributions. Against the Sabres he had four shots and three hits, and was plus-1. But before his goal, his most noticeable moment was missing an open net during a second-period penalty kill.

It was a difficult play — Johnson's pass was in Palat's skates — but it stuck with Palat, and he hoped for another chance. That came with 4:05 left in the third period on a scramble in front of the net that ended with Palat's third goal of the season.

Cooper called it a "100 percent, blue-collar, work-ethic goal." Palat simplified it.

"I passed it to (Johnson), and he shot it, and there was a rebound, and it hit my skate," Palat said. "I saw Miller was out of the net, so I just shot it."

"He's not a flashy guy, but he just does everything so well," right wing Teddy Purcell said. "He's smart, and he battles."

And consider this: Of Palat's five career goals, two are winners, not a bad percentage.

"He's just extremely dependable," Cooper said. "When he makes a mistake, you're almost shocked that it happened. And it doesn't happen very often."

Lightning1023
Sabres0112
Lightning1023
Sabres0112

First1, Tampa Bay, Johnson 3 (Filppula, Carle), 12:48 (pp). PenaltiesLarsson, Buf (hooking), 11:16; Ehrhoff, Buf (hooking), 14:58; Crombeen, TB (interference), 17:38.

Second2, Buffalo, Flynn 2 (McCormick, Leino), 12:58. PenaltiesOtt, Buf (interference), :47; McCormick, Buf (cross-checking), 2:41; Ennis, Buf (hooking), 8:03; Malone, TB (roughing), 9:32; Thompson, TB (boarding), 16:00; Tallinder, Buf (tripping), 19:00.

Third3, Buffalo, Vanek 4 (Foligno, Girgensons), 12:46. 4, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 6 (Stamkos, Gudas), 14:09. 5, Tampa Bay, Palat 3 (Johnson), 15:55. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalBuffalo 6-13-3—22. Tampa Bay 12-15-12—39. Power-play opportunitiesBuffalo 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 6. GoaliesBuffalo, Miller 1-8-0 (39 shots-36 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 7-1-0 (22-20). A18,088 (19,204).

 
Comments
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Published: 06/22/18
Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

As expected, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he does not intend to re-sign veteran forward Chris Kunitz, who will seek his fifth Stanley Cup with a different team next season.Kunitz, 38, brought much-needed playoff experience in his lone...
Published: 06/22/18
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Published: 06/21/18
Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

DALLAS — The New York Islanders have hired Barry Trotz as their new head coach. President of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello announced the move Thursday at the NHL draft, two weeks after Trotz won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals and thr...
Published: 06/21/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

The victims and survivors of three tragedies — the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, and the bus accident that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — were a big part of Wedne...
Published: 06/21/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Published: 06/20/18
Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will announce their full 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, but the league announced each home opener Wednesday, with Tampa Bay playing host to the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Oct. 6.The Lightning will know their ...
Published: 06/20/18
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18