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TAMPA, Fla. – Steven Stamkos scored his 22nd goal to break a third-period tie and the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning beat the stumbling Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Friday night.
Stamkos took a pass from Jonathan Drouin during a 2-on-1 and lifted a shot with 5:18 to play over Michal Neuvirth, who was under siege the final two periods and finished with 45 saves.
Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Lightning, who have won seven of eight.
The Sabres, losers of seven in a row, got a goal from Cody McCormick. Buffalo has scored eight goals during the skid.
Neuvirth stopped all 26 shots he faced during the second period, including a lunging in-close save on Ryan Callahan less than a minute after McCormick tied it at 1. Later in the period, the goalie stopped Nikita Kucherov's breakaway backhander and had a terrific diving glove save on Brett Connolly, a play that appeared to be a certain goal that the red light was turned on and the celebration horn went off.
Buffalo's penalty killing unit, which entered last in the NHL in road success, got its fifth short-handed goal this season when McCormick skated down the slot alone and put a shot past Ben Bishop 50 seconds into the second. McCormick stopped a 36-game goal drought dating to April 5 against Pittsburgh.
The Sabres' NHL-worst power play gave up a short-handed breakaway to Cedric Paquette with 7 minutes left in the third, but Neuvirth again came up big again turning aside the scoring chance.
Filppula opened the scoring at 3:51 of the first with a rebound goal.
NOTES: Tampa Bay's 26 shots during the second set a team record for most in a single period. ... Callahan has one goal in his last 19 games. He did assist on Filppula's goal. ... Buffalo BW Drew Stafford rejoined the team following the birth of his child. ... The Sabres have outscored 37-15 in the first period this season.