Tampa – If there were times when Ondrej Palat thought he’d never score another goal, he never showed it. Instead, Lightning went to work and continued to do the little things that made him a mainstay in the top row.
The Palates have been unable to find the net in nearly three months, leading to a 28-game drought in Sunday’s game against Buffalo.
The Lightning, looking to build on the positives they took from Friday’s extra loss to the Bruins, came out strong against the Sabers.
In the first period, Balat ended his dry spell, scoring twice in the match as the lightning scored the first two goals of the match in 17 seconds, sending relief across the bench and paving the way to a 5-0 win over the Amalie Arena.
“I knew there would be one day I would score a goal,” Balat said with a smile. “So I’m glad it was (Sunday).”
With the win, Lightning (44-20-8, 96 points) not only cut short his four-game losing streak, but also surpassed the Bruins (95 points) to finish third in the Atlantic League. The Bruins lost to the Capitals on Sunday.
Tampa Bay could clinch a playoff by defeating Dallas on Tuesday.
Sunday’s win, which came against a Buffalo side who entered the day after taking points in nine of their previous 12 games, was one of Lightning’s best overall games of the past month.
He took the last five minutes of the second half and the lightning controlled the timing of the area and was defensively strong. Lightning has only allowed one goal in regulation over the past two games.
“If we want to make some noise in the spring, it all comes down to how we play on our end,” coach John Cooper said.
As Lightning tries to find the right streak combinations for post-season, they’ve received goals from all four streaks. Brandon Hagel’s acquisition of Deadline Trading scored his third goal with Lightning, his 24th goal overall, and Ross Colton’s 16th goal of the season.
Reserve goalkeeper Brian Elliott has scored 28 saves, improving his record to 5-1-1 in his past seven games and his first close since February 27, 2021, for the Flyers against the Saber. Elliott will likely see more playing time during the last 10 games of the regular season as Lightning gives Andrei Vasilevskiy some respite.
Although the Lightning entered Sunday 6-8-2 in their previous 16 games, they saw Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Boston as a step toward returning to winning hockey. Sunday’s win was another step.
“Things are changing fast,” said defender Ryan McDonagh, who returned to the squad after missing the previous eight games with an upper body injury and produced a superb cross for Nikita Kucherov to net Lightning’s fourth goal.
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“That’s why you have to stick to your habits and make sure you have a good attitude. Obviously frustration can happen when you don’t get results and the gains aren’t coming, but if there’s anything this group knows how to do, they stick with it and try to find a winning formula and a winning recipe.” “.
Corey Berry cut the goal drought in 16 games by scoring 9:21 in the game.
Seconds later, score bales.
Although Balat hasn’t scored a goal since January 11 at Buffalo, Sunday’s goal was his 16th of the season, close to his career average over his entire nine seasons in the league.
“There was some good conversation on the bench,” Cooper said. “You could tell the guys were relieved. (Balat was) the only player to get two points in the match, so that was good for him and very much needed for two of the guys.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected]. Follow EddieintheYard.
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