NHL Game Night: 2-11-12 Lightning at Sabres

Closing in on being able to declare a successful road trip.

TB-2
BUF-1

Mathieu Garon was dazzling, stopping 26 of 27 for the victory, including several key stops in the final 10 minutes of the contest to preserve the victory and the 2 points.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
TB Downie (9), (Hedman, Stamkos), 7:31
TB Stamkos (37), (Purcell), 13:16

Third Period
BUF Pominville (20), (Vanek, Weber), 7:07

Steven Stamkos and Garon were the game's first and second stars. Through two periods, I thought Stamkos was worthy of sweeping all three stars the way he played. His line's been the best the past two games, after Marty and Vinny upped the ante in the couple of games before that.

They certainly did it the hard way by holding on by a fingernail at the end, but the Lightning are about 1 point away from having a successful road trip with 1 game left to go, and at least giving themselves a chance heading into the second half of February. They're 8 points back of Toronto, who got pounded tonight by Montreal, for 8th in the conference and 9 points back of the Panthers in the division. The Lightning have 4 games in hand on Ottawa, 2 on Toronto, and 3 on Winnipeg, and they've got a lot of head-to-head games against those 3 left on the schedule. The Lightning don't have any games in hand on Washington, but they do have enough head-to-head matchups left to make it interesting on the Caps. Florida has to help out the Lightning by imploding to give Tampa Bay hope of catching them. The Panthers did a lot to stabilize themselves by beating the Caps and then by beating New Jersey today, so that situation looks less rosy than it did a week ago.

Brett Connolly played 7:26 in the game. Congratulations to Brett for graduating from prospect status on Bolt Prospects, as tonight was his 41st NHL game of the season.

J.T. Wyman had 2 penalty minutes in 8:47.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.