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Bishop makes 24 saves, Lightning defeat Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO – One reason the Tampa Bay Lightning got to the Stanley Cup Final last season was depth and they showed how dangerous they can be when it comes through, getting goals from four different players, one from each line, in a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

Erik Condra gave the Lightning (2-0-0) a 1-0 lead 8:14 into the second period. Condra took a pass from Victor Hedman and skated the puck around the outside of the faceoff circle where he took a wrist shot that got past Sabres goalie Chad Johnson over his right shoulder.

"Center, wing went to the net, the [defense] was there and a bunch of guys so I just tried to get it through," Condra said. "I actually didn't see it go in, a guy kind of bumped me after the play. They came to me so I figured I scored."

Condra signed a three-year contract with the Lightning as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and was the one new addition to the lineup in the offseason.

"We got all the kinks out in preseason," Condra said. "It's easy to play with the guys I'm playing with. It becomes a simple game."

After Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers made 1-1 with 6:05 left in the second period, the Lightning got the lead for good when Nikita Kucherov scored with 26 seconds left in the period.

Kucherov received a pass across the attack zone from Tyler Johnson and took a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Johnson to his glove side. Kucherov's goal came as a too many men on the ice penalty to the Sabres expired.

"We gave them their three or four goals so we've just got to get better there," Deslauriers said. "But I think we got a good start, just we had that too many men there and it kind of went bad from there."

Steven Stamkos made it 3-1 with 11:07 left in the third period when he took a pass out of the corner off the side of the net from Ryan Callahan and shot it past Johnson.

"Couple shifts before he tried to feed one out from and the goalie got his stick on it," Stamkos said. "[Callahan] came back to the bench and said, 'I should've thrown it off the net.' Second time he does it and it's right on my tape. Pretty impressive play."

It was Stamkos' first goal of the season and his 499th career point.

"Yeah, we were talking about that. Playground rules," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "That's a heady play, that's the skill level of these players. They think things like that under immense pressure, defensemen on you and Stammer's joining the spot and Stammer does what Stammer does."

Johnson, who made 27 saves, got the start in place of Robin Lehner who was placed on injured reserve after he sustained a lower body injury in a 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"I thought he was good. I think he got three real good, Grade-A [saves] in the first," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "He gave us a chance to win with the way he played."

J.T. Brown made it 4-1 with 7:19 left in the third period after he deflected a shot from the blue line from defenseman Jason Garrison.

"The big thing is guys going to the net," Cooper said. "You're looking at these goals that we're scoring ... you're taking eyes away. ... That was big for us. You get traffic in front and good things can happen."

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop made 24 saves. The Sabres (0-2-0) outshot the Lightning 11-8 after the first period and the Sabres led in shot attempts by a 23-15 margin.

"I'm giving Buffalo credit for putting us on our heels," Cooper said. "They've got some speed up front. We kind of had to weather the storm a little bit before we got going and I always think when you score that first goal and you're always making the team play catch up, that was big for us to get that first one. It kind of settled us down a little bit and we kind of took off from there."

The Lightning finished with a 54-51 shot attempt margin and outshot the Sabres 31-25.

"I liked the way we started," Bylsma said. "I liked the way we played the first 30 minutes of the game probably. I liked the tempo and where we played it. I still think we can do a better job of shooting the puck."

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