If the Tampa Bay Lighting were looking to make a good impression on their new head coach that was looking down from high above the game, mission accomplished. The Lightning played what may have been their most complete game of the season Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres, as they defeated the Sabres 2-1 in front of another sold out crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Lightning opened up the scoring in the first period when Steven Stamkos converted on a pass from Marty St. Louis to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. For Stamkos, it was his league-leading 23rd goal of the season.
The Lightning extended the lead midway through the second period when they converted on a two man advantage. Teddy Purcell found Marty St. Louis in the right circle and St Louis blasted home a one-timer. For St. Louis it was his eighth goal of the season.
The key in this game was the energy level for the Lightning, for the majority of the game, they were all over the Sabres, and at one point, even pinned the Sabres into their own end for an extended period, which is not something that has happened a lot this season.
Mathieu Garon, who was pulled from his last start against the Ottawa Senators after giving up four goals in a seven minute span, was solid, and at times spectacular against the Sabres. Garon rebounded nicely in earning the win.
“It feels great,” Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. “We did a great job of building off of last game. We didn’t get the result we wanted in Winnipeg, but we played a solid game. Today we started from the get go and we finished with a solid game. We wanted the puck today. We made plays and it showed out there.”
The Lightning do not play again until Friday, which will give new head coach Jon Cooper time to practice with his new team, and prepare for a visit from the New Jersey Devils. From what Cooper saw Tuesday might, he has to be thrilled about what is to come.