By many metrics, Friday's Global Series-opening victory was one of Tampa Bay's best performances of the season.
The Bolts held a heavy advantage in shots on goal and did a good job of limiting Buffalo's offensive chances. Tampa Bay also kept its penalties to a minimum and was perfect when the PK was called upon.
The Lightning put all those factors together to pick up a key 3-2 victory over the Sabres on Friday at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.
Slow starts had plagued the Lightning in their recent 1-2-1 stretch, forcing the Bolts to play from behind. Tampa bay was able to flip the script on Friday, applying significant pressure and scoring the game-opening goal for the first time since October 23.
Video: TBL@BUF: Kucherov buries one-timer to open scoring
Nikita Kucherov broke the ice with his fifth goal of the season just over three minutes into the game. Kevin Shattenkirk created a two-on-one break for the Bolts with a feed up the boards to Brayden Point who then found Kucherov out in front for the goal.
The Lightning doubled their lead late in the period on a power play goal from Alex Killorn. Victor Hedman took a shot from the point and Killorn had positioning in front of the net to deflect the puck past Linus Ullmark.
The lone goal of the second period belonged to Buffalo's Sam Reinhart. Initially it looked like Reinhart had scored off a deflection with a high stick but the officials determined that his stick was below the crossbar.
Yanni Gourde gave the Bolts a two-goal lead early in the third period with his third goal of the season, taking advantage of a great shift and feed from Pat Maroon behind the goal.
Video: TBL@BUF: Gourde cleans up rebound in front
Reinhart's second goal of the game pulled Buffalo back within one midway through the period but that would be as close as the Sabres would come.
The Lightning cleaned up their play across the board, outshooting the Sabres 34-22 and going a perfect 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Another positive note for the Lightning comes on the injury front. When the trip began last week in New York, the Bolts were dealing with injuries up and down the lineup but appear have turned the corner. Both Hedman and Maroon returned to the lineup after sitting out the previous two games.
The Lightning and Sabres meet again tomorrow at Ericsson Globe in the finale of the Global Series.
TBL | 3:19 Nikita Kucherov (5) - Brayden Point, Kevin Shattenkirk
TBL | 16:14 Alex Killorn (3) - Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos - PPG
BUF | 15:43 Sam Reinhart (6) - Rasums Ristolainen, Jake McCabe
TBL | 7:45 Yanni Gourde (3) - Pat Maroon, Cedric Paquette
BUF | 11:30 Sam Reinhart (7) - Henri Jokiharju, Victor Olofsson