TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Brian Elliott made 28 saves, Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat had goals 17 seconds apart in the first period and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-0 on Sunday night.
Brandon Hagel, Nikita Kucherov and Ross Colton also scored to help the two-time defending champion Lightning move past Boston into third place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay had lost four straight (0-2-2) and avoided its first five-game losing streak since Mar. 2-10, 2014.
“To be honest, if we want to make some noise in the spring, it all comes back to how we play in our own end,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Aside from probably that last five minutes of the second period when we got a little sloppy with where we were putting pucks, I liked what we did tonight.”
Buffalo’s Craig Anderson stopped 23 shots. The Sabres are 0-3 on a four-game trip that also includes losses to Carolina (5-3) and Florida (4-3)
“We struggled,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We complicated the simple. We did not look like ourselves. We had some extremely golden opportunities to score, we just couldn’t convert. Their goaltender played well but I think we made him look ever better.”
Elliott stopped Dylan Cozens’ in-close backhander and made a lunging glove save on Rasmus Asplund eight minutes into the game. The backup goalie improved to 18-4-2 against Buffalo, with five of his career 43 shutouts coming against them.
“No. 2 goalie, it’s always a tough position,” Palat said. “You’re not playing a lot but when he’s playing he’s always on. He’s been unbelievable for us, and today he was great.”
It was Elliott’s first shutout with Tampa Bay, giving him one with five teams (also Philadelphia, Calgary, St. Louis and Ottawa). Only Sean Burke (seven), Dwayne Roloson (six) and Lorne Chabot (six) are the only goalies to accomplish it with more franchises.
Elliott is 8-3-3 in 15 games this season, and Cooper said he may play in four of the final 10 regular-season games.
Perry and Palat both ended long goal droughts midway through the first as Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead.
Perry stopped a 16-game goal-less stretch while being tripped in the slot at 9:21. Palat got his first goal in 29 games after stealing the puck from Casey Fitzgerald in the neutral zone and scored during a 3-on-1.
Tampa Bay took a 4-0 lead when Hagel and Kucherov scored in the opening 4:28 of the second period.
Colton had a third-period goal.
Steven Stamkos assisted on Colton’s goal to reach 80 points for a team record-tying sixth time in his career and first time since 2018-19. Martin St. Louis also had six 80-point seasons for Tampa Bay.
The game was penalty-free until Buffalo’s Mattias Samuelsson was called for delay of game 7:15 into the third. Both teams received two penalties overall.
Samuelsson had both Buffalo penalties and finished minus-four,
Defenseman Owen Power, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Buffalo on Friday, participated in his first morning skate Sunday and is set to make his NHL debut Tuesday night at Toronto.
“It’s pretty special,” Power said. “I think everyone’s first game in the NHL is, obviously, very special but to have it in my hometown with all my family there I think is just going to make it that much better.”
Power, who was selected by the Sabres with the first pick in the 2021 draft, spent two seasons at the University of Michigan.
Power said his mother is handing the distribution of tickets for the game Tuesday.
Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned after missing eight games with an upper-body injury and had an assist.
Sabres: At Toronto on Tuesday night.
Lightning: At Dallas on Tuesday night.