NHL Game Night: 4-6-18 Sabres at Lightning

Lightning move onto the cusp of clinching a division title... barely.

BUF-5
TB-7

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 32 shots for the win. Somehow.

First Period
0:30 TB Cirelli (4), (Gourde)
2:57 BUF Mittelstadt (1), (Scandella, Rodrigues)(PP)
4:35 TB Kucherov (39), (unassisted)
6:32 BUF Nylander (1), (Guhle, Ristolainen)
9:40 TB Gourde (25), (Killorn)

Second Period
1:04 TB Girardi (6), (Kucherov, Palat)
8:59 BUF Pominville (15), (Guhle, Rodrigues)
15:58 BUF Nolan (4), (Larsson)
18:45 BUF Okposo (15), (Eichel, O'Reilly)(PP)

Third Period
6:15 TB Cirelli (5), (Killorn, Sergachev)
7:02 TB Point (32), (Killorn, Gourde)
18:34 TB Hedman (17), (Vasilevskiy)(EN)

Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde, and Anthony Cirelli were the game's three stars.

With Boston failing to keep pace in their tilt last night the Lightning came into this game just needing a regulation or OT win in each of their last two games in order to clinch the Atlantic Division and force Boston into a first round matchup against a Toronto team the Bruins have struggled mightily against in the regular season. Strategically, this was a must-win game and the Lightning seemed to bring the intensity necessary for the task... right up until they got a 4-2 lead. Then they let their foot off the gas and soon found themselves chasing the game down 5-4 heading into the Third Period. That the Lightning found a way to pull this one out is fantastic, but the unevenness of their intensity level is troubling (along with their awful penalty kill) and may be potentially costly if the energy they had to expend tonight costs them in their contest with Carolina in the regular season finale tomorrow.

Cirelli had 2 goals and was +4 with 3 shots in 13:33. He was also 63% on 16 draws including winning the draw against arguably the league's finest, Ryan O'Reilly, en route to manufacturing the critical goal that tied the game at 5-5. With Stamkos out hurt Cirelli's had to step up and you could make an argument he was Tampa Bay's best forward tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.