It hasn't been hard to put up good numbers against the Buffalo Sabres in recent years. Tampa Bay is taking it to a different level.
The Lightning left KeyBank Center with a 2-0 victory Tuesday, continuing their astounding stretch of success. Tampa is 15-2-1 against the Sabres in the last 18 games, and on an 11-2-1 run in Buffalo.
The Sabres continue to run in the opposite direction. They fell to 6-15-4 this season, including 1-7-2 in the last 10 games. They are 3-8-1 at home.
After getting shut out Saturday in Montreal, the Sabres have gone 120 minutes, 51 seconds without a goal. They hadn't been shut out in consecutive games since Oct. 17-18, 2014, when they lost to Florida, 1-0, and Boston, 4-0.
The Sabres played the final 4:19 with goaltender Robin Lehner pulled for the extra attacker.
Not again: For the second game in a row, Lehner watched a Sabres player tip a puck past him. The Tampa Bay power-play unit worked the puck to the left point, where defenseman Mikhail Sergachev took a slap shot.
Sabres center Johan Larsson waved his stick at the blast, sending it airborne and over the shoulder of Lehner. The only goal of the first period came with 3:31 left.
Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen inadvertently directed a shot past Lehner on Saturday in Montreal.
Not again, again: Almost unbelievably, the Lightning's second goal went off a Buffalo player, too. Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos skated to the front to set a screen, and Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella flattened him. As he did, defenseman Dan Girardi's slap shot from the point hit Scandella in the leg and bounced in.
Tampa went up, 2-0, with 7:52 left in the second.
Ristolainen in pain: Ristolainen gave the fans a scare. He headed to the trainers' room hunched over in obvious pain late in the second period.
The defenseman, who was playing his third game after missing nine with an upper-body injury, returned for the third period.
Ristolainen was pinching below the Tampa net when Braydon Coburn hit him from the side. The defenseman glanced off the post and fell hard – and awkwardly – onto the back of the net. Ristolainen also bounced off goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was partially in the net while hugging the post.
The referees gave Coburn two minutes for interference with 1:13 left in the second.
Killers: The Sabres' penalty killers kept the team afloat late in the game. With Nathan Beaulieu in the box for slashing, Ristolainen high-sticked Stamkos with 8:59 to play.
Tampa Bay had a five-on-three for 1:33, but the Sabres successfully killed off the penalties.
Piling up points: Sergachev is making an early case for Rookie of the Year. The defenseman has six goals and 16 points in 24 games. Sergachev was taken ninth by Montreal in the 2016 NHL Draft, one selection after Buffalo picked Alex Nylander. The Lightning acquired Sergachev in exchange for forward Jonathan Drouin.
Shot edge: The Sabres had a 10-9 shot advantage during the first period and an 11-10 edge in the second, but they couldn't solve Vasilevskiy.
Back in blue: The Sabres dressed right wing Matt Moulson, who was a healthy scratch for the previous six games and 10 of the previous 14. Moulson skated with center Kyle Criscuolo and left wing Zemgus Girgensons.
Counting the house: The no-shows were numerous as the Sabres announced 17,569 tickets sold.
Next: The Sabres face the defending Stanley Cup champion not once but twice. The Pittsburgh Penguins come to Buffalo on Friday, and the teams complete their miniseries Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Penguins will be without goaltender Matt Murray, who is week-to-week with a lower-body injury suffered Monday.