Tampa, FL – New Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper wasn't present on the bench, but he is surely pleased with the Lightning's defensive effort in a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Steven Stamkos and Martin St Louis each set up one another's goals, helping Tampa Bay snap a three-game losing streak. Mathieu Garon needed to make only 13 saves to pick up his fourth win of the season and first against a team other than Carolina.
"We worked extremely hard, made plays and executed," Stamkos said. "It was a great win for us. It's always nice to get back in the win column."
The Lightning fired Guy Boucher Sunday morning and named Cooper, the head coach for Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Syracuse, his replacement Monday evening.
Cooper, however, will not make his NHL coaching debut until Friday, when the Lightning host New Jersey. Assistants Dan Lacroix and Steve Thomas shared the coaching responsibilities Tuesday night.
Ryan Miller stopped 21 shots for Buffalo, which had a three-game winning streak come to an end.
"There wasn't a lot of urgency in anything tonight," Buffalo coach Ron Rolston admitted. "(We'll) just get ready for the next game. We got to win the next one."
Jordan Leopold spoiled Garon's shutout bid with 3:08 remaining in the third period. The Sabres defenseman let go a slap shot from the high slot that sailed past the goalie's left pad.
Stamkos staked Tampa Bay to a 1-0 lead at the 16:01 mark of the first period with his NHL-leading 23rd goal of the season on a one-timer from the slot.
It was St. Louis who set up Stamkos and the veteran forward beat Miller in the middle frame to make it 2-0. With the Lightning on a 5-on-3 power play, Teddy Purcell fed St. Louis for a one-timer from the right circle at 8:15. Stamkos was credited with the secondary helper.
Buffalo is the only other NHL team to change coaches this season ... Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera missed his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury.