Bolts end losing streak in shutout victory

by Gary Shelton on April 11, 2022

in general

Palat finally scored a goal./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

On the night the wrong-way streaks died, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally looked like a team that had been reborn.

And isn't it about time?

The Bolts, playing against an improved Buffalo team, played a solid game and beat the Sabres, 5-0, behind Brian Elliott's shutout. It was enough to return the Bolts to third place in the Atlantic Division.

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Along the way, the Bolts:

-- Ended a season-most four-game losing streak. The Bolts had lost 10 of their previous 16 games and seemed to be a team sliding down the mountainside.

-- Saw the return of defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who had missed the previous eight games with an injury. A "stabilizer," Lightning coach Jon Cooper called him.

-- Saw Corey Perry score a goal for the first time in 17 games.

-- Seventeen seconds later, Ondrej Palat scored for the first time in 29 games.

In all, it was a crisp game. The Bolts took only one penalty on the night, and they grabbed an early lead and were solid in the third period. They played a solid game on defense.

“To be honest, if we want to make some noise in the spring, it always comes back to how we play in our back end," Cooper said. "We didn't get points against Boston, but I thought we played well. We carried it into tonight. Aside from the last five minutes of the second period, I liked what we did. Buffalo has been giving other teams fits. For us to take them out like that, I'm pretty pleased."

Much of the way this one will be remembered is that Palat -- and, to a lesser degree, Perry -- ended their personal skids.

"That was the talk on the bench," Cooper said. "There was some good chatter. You could tell some relief."

Said Palat: “It’s nice to score again. It’s a good feeling. But like I said, I was just trying to work hard and play like I play every game. There was going be some day I was going to score. I‘m glad it was today."

Also scoring for the Bolts were Brandon Hagel, Nikita Kucherov and Ross Colton. For Kucherov, it was his fourth goal in five games.

Elliott stopped all 28 shots for his first shutout of the year. He is now 8-3-3 on the season, and Cooper suggested he could play more frequently down the stretch as the team rests Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Bolts reduced their magic number to two to clinch the playoffs, which would be the team's fifth straight season and it's eighth trip in nine full seasons under Cooper.

Tampa Bay could clinch the playoffs as early as Tuesday night, when they visit Dallas. The game is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m.

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