BUFFALO, N.Y. — Adam Hall on Saturday night did what he had done many times before. This time, though, there was a payoff.
"I wasn't expecting it," the Lightning right wing said, "but I'll take it."
What happened was Sabres goaltender Patrick Lalime passed the puck right to the forechecking Hall, who turned the turnover into the winning goal in Tampa Bay's 2-1 victory at HSBC Arena.
Hall's tally with 8:34 left in the second period snapped a 1-1 tie built by Teddy Purcell's redirect of Randy Jones' pass with 1:50 left in the first.
Add goalie Mike Smith, who made 29 saves, including one on Thomas Vanek with about one second left in the game, and Tampa Bay (11-7-2) had one of its most satisfying wins of the season.
Not only did it mean a sweep of a three-game road trip, it pushed further into the past the 1-5-1 skid that preceded it. This also was the first time in eight games neither Steven Stamkos nor Marty St. Louis had a point, and the first time in eight games the power play was shut out.
In other words, it was a reminder the team has options.
"I was so happy when that horn went off," said Smith, who went to one knee and pumped his fist to celebrate. "The guys played great in front of me; a huge confidence builder for our team."
And for Smith, who had lost three straight starts and allowed a soft goal to Vanek on Buffalo's first shot. But Smith also got enough of Vanek's breakaway with 7:25 left in the first that it hit a post, preserving the one-goal deficit.
"I gave my post a kiss after the game," Smith said.
Smith was strong, too, in the third period with 12 saves as the Lightning, playing a third game in four nights, went defensive and took just three shots.
"We wanted to make sure we stayed structured," coach Guy Boucher said. "We tried to deflect as much as we could to the outside, and our guys battled extremely hard on the boards."
Still, Paul Gaustad beat Hall on a faceoff with three seconds left, which led to Vanek's backhander, which Smith stopped with his left pad.
"There wasn't any way that was going in," Smith said.
"He was huge," Hall said. "He was the game.
Hall hounded Lalime, filling in for injured Ryan Miller, into giving the puck away, and Hall made him pay with a backhander.
"You want to put pressure on the goalie and force him to make plays quicker than he wants to," Hall said. "I tried to get down there, just give the goalie a little fake to make a mistake."
"A mistake," Lalime said, "that cost us the game."
First Period—1, Buffalo, Vanek 8, 4:52. 2, Tampa Bay, Purcell 3 (R.Jones, Kubina), 18:10. Penalties—Vanek, Buf (hooking), 10:28; Moore, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:20; Gaustad, Buf (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:20; Gaustad, Buf (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:53.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Hall 4, 11:26. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (slashing), 7:11; Gaustad, Buf (tripping), 15:21; Moore, TB (holding stick), 19:24.
Third Period—None. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 10-9-3—22. Buffalo 7-11-12—30. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 3; Buffalo 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 6-3-0 (30 shots-29 saves). Buffalo, Lalime 0-4-0 (22-20). A—17,833 (18,690). T—2:22. Referees—Wes McCauley, Rob Martell. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Pierre Champoux.