TAMPA — It is way too early to say the Lightning has a goaltending controversy, so let's just say it has a decision to make: whether to start Mathieu Garon for a third straight game Tuesday against the Sabres.
It's a toughie. Garon, signed to be Dwayne Roloson's backup, is staking a claim. On Saturday night it was with 21 saves in a 3-0 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum over previously high-flying Buffalo.
It was Garon's second straight win and the second straight for Tampa Bay (3-3-2), and it is no secret coach Guy Boucher doesn't like tinkering with a winning lineup.
"I don't know," Boucher said when asked the question. "(I'll spend today) with my family and think about it all day, and then we'll go back Monday on the drawing board and figure out what we're doing with everybody."
Right now everybody is doing what's right for the Lightning.
Team defense was superb. Buffalo, which had won five of its first six games, was limited to 21 shots and was slowed to a crawl through the neutral zone.
Boucher called Steven Stamkos' defensive awareness "unreal," and the line of center Nate Thompson, Tom Pyatt and Adam Hall, with support from defensemen Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer, limited Lightning killer Thomas Vanek to three shots.
"They collapse really well (in front of the net)," Buffalo's Jason Pominville said, "probably more than any team in the league."
Pavel Kubina scored in the first period, Marty St. Louis in the third and Hedman, who had five of Tampa Bay's 22 blocked shots, had an empty-netter.
But Garon, who has stopped 37 of 38 shots in his two wins, stole the show with his 20th career shutout.
Boucher said Garon was "very aggressive and poised," and added, "It would be hard to say I didn't like him."
Garon, though, was subdued.
"I made a lot of mistakes," he said. "I was in trouble, and the guys took care of that. There were shots I didn't see, and the guys took care of it. They blocked all the shots and cleared the rebounds.
"Even though I had a shutout, I didn't feel like it was my best game."
Perhaps, but compared with Roloson's past three in which he allowed 17 goals, Garon's game, with little wasted movement, was exactly what Tampa Bay needed to help break a five-game losing streak, which it did Thursday against the Islanders.
That said, Roloson didn't have the luxury of the defensive shield the Lightning has constructed.
"I don't think about it," Garon said when asked about Tuesday.
"We have two great goaltenders we can count on," Hedman said. "It's a tremendous feeling for us."
Whatever the decision.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.
First Period—None. Penalties—Kaleta, Buf (roughing), 6:21; Downie, TB (roughing), 6:21.
Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, Kubina 1 (Stamkos, Purcell), 4:51. Penalties—Jones, TB (interference), 6:38; Adam, Buf (delay of game), 10:25.
Third Period—2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 3 (Lecavalier, Connolly), 8:30. 3, Tampa Bay, Hedman 2 (St. Louis), 18:33 (en). Penalties—St. Louis, TB (hooking), 4:46; Hedman, TB (delay of game), 12:07. Shots on Goal—Buffalo 8-8-5—21. Tampa Bay 7-10-9—26. Power-play opportunities—Buffalo 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 1. Goalies—Buffalo, Miller 4-2-0 (25 shots-23 saves). Tampa Bay, Garon 2-1-1 (21-21). Referees—Mike Hasenfratz, Dan O'Rourke. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Darren Gibbs.