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BIRON STEALS LIGHTNING'S THUNDER

A whistle stopped play late in the second period, and Chris Gratton skated behind the Sabres' goal in disbelief.

And then he smashed his stick on the crossbar.

It wasn't the first time Martin Biron had aggravated an opponent this season.

"I heard the crack," Biron said. "And then I looked to my right and saw the blade.

"Anytime you can frustrate somebody, it's a good sign."

Buffalo's rookie goaltender stopped five shots by the Tampa Bay forward Tuesday night and eventually posted a 2-1 victory over the Lightning at Marine Midland Arena.

"It was a spectacular game for him," Lightning head coach Steve Ludzik said. "He made some huge saves."

It was the latest in several strong performances by Biron, who has been effective despite playing in Dominik Hasek's shadow. Biron could become the Sabres' first first-team all-rookie goalie since Tom Barrasso in 1983.

Biron saved 21 shots, getting beat once by Darcy Tucker 1:30 into the third period. Biron is 6-3 in the one-goal decisions he has played from start to finish.

Overall, the wiry 22-year-old is 17-13-2 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

"I've tried all along to help the team win games, but I'm not thinking about personal numbers," Biron said. "They brought me here to win and that's all I want to do."

Biron already holds the Sabres' rookie shutout record with four, a number that ties him for the overall NHL lead in that department.

The NHL rookie shutout record is uncertain because of the league's historically varying definition of what a rookie is. But former New York Islander Tommy Salo is believed to hold the modern mark with five.

Biron, who turned in his eighth one-goal-allowed game, nearly matched Salo Tuesday.

"It looks like he had a little bit of a bad break on the goal that went in," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "His stick got caught on his pad for a second and it went across."

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