Lightning 2, Sabres 1

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis each had a goal and an assist on Tuesday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum as the Lightning won for the first time since head coach Guy Boucher was fired on Saturday.
With the 2-1 win, the Lightning (14-18-1) retained the faintest of playoff hopes in the Eastern Conference at six points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers. The defeat dealt the Sabres a hurtful loss in breaking their three-game win streak. Buffalo (13-16-4) entered the game just three points behind the Rangers.
Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon faced just 14 shots -- his teammates blocked 16 -- to win for the fourth time this season, but the first against a team other than Carolina.
Stamkos gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with 3:59 left in the first period with his league-leading 23rd goal. Surging after a successful penalty kill, Tampa Bay established a long possession in the Sabre zone before St. Louis swooped from behind the goal and fed Stamkos for a one-timer before Patrick Kaleta could flop in front of him.
St. Louis was credited with his 34th assist.
St. Louis increased the lead to 2-0 with 11:45 left in the second period when he one-timed a feather pass from Teddy Purcell past Ryan Miller on a 5-on-3 power play. The goal, 33 seconds into the two-man advantage, was St. Louis' eighth of the season and came off assists from Purcell (19) and Stamkos (20).
Buffalo had two prime chances to beat Garon in the period, but the Lightning goaltender sprawled to smother a Jason Pominville attempt at the goal mouth with eight minutes left and Thomas Vanek -- Buffalo's leading goal scorer with 16 -- wasted a breakaway with 1:14 remaining when he fell attempting to deke Garon.
Jordon Leopold scored his second goal of the season for Buffalo with 3:08 remaining.
NOTES: Jon Cooper was named the Lightning's eighth head coach -- replacing Boucher, who was fired on Saturday -- and will take over on Friday. Dan Lacroix, Marty Raymond and Steve Thomas ran the team on Tuesday night. Cooper, 45, led then-Lightning affiliate Norfolk to the American Hockey League title last season, as the club set a North American professional hockey record with 28 straight wins at one point. He was in charge of Tampa Bay's Syracuse AHL affiliate before being promoted. ... The Sabres had killed 17 straight penalties against the Lightning, dating to Feb. 8, 2011, before St. Louis' power play goal in the second period. ... Buffalo's Cody Hodgson entered with 25 points (nine goals) in his previous 26 games. ... Buffalo entered having scored a power play goal in four straight games. ... Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback (ankle), and forwards Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Vincent Lecavalier (foot) and Ryan Malone (shoulder) are on injured reserve. ... Former Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming, 62, died of brain cancer on Monday in Calgary.

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