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Bolts Close Out Season With Win over Buffalo.

Saturday night the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoffs hopes officially came to an end when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bolts fans have a lot to look forward to as the team heads into their final game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres.

Andrei Vasilevskiy showed when Ben Bishop was traded he could be a starting goalie in the NHL. The young goalie went 11-4-2 since the trade deadline. Vasilevskiy also managed to have a 2.29 goals against average to go along with a .930 save percentage. Factor in the emergence of Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point and Jake Dotchin, the Lightning’s future definitely looks bright.

Heading into the 2017-2018 season this team could look drastically different. Pending restricted and unrestricted free agents as well as the upcoming Las Vegas expansion draft will shape this team for years to come.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (22-17-7) vs Linus Ullmark (Season Debut)

Tampa came out firing on all cylinders against the Sabres and goalie Linus Ullmark. The Bolts almost looked like a team that was still playing for a playoff spot instead of pride. Gourde had a good chance in front of Ullmark early in the first period, continuing his hot play (Five goals in his last seven games prior to tonight). The Bolts out-shot the Sabres 7-3 mid way through the first. Both teams would struggle to get the puck past the neutral zone.

With 6:04 remaining in the first period Buffalo would open the scoring as William Carrier would notch his fifth goal of the season. The Lightning having some pressure in the defensive zone would lose the puck to Carrier. He would skate down the boards and fire a shot over Vasilevskiy’s left shoulder. The perfectly placed shot would give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.

The Bolts would keep the early period pressure going with Buffalo holding onto their 1-0 lead. With about six minutes gone in the second period Braydon Point would continue his tremendous rookie campaign and notch his 17th goal of the season.

With an assist on the goal Victor Hedman would get to 71 points, currently tying him with Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. He is now tied for second among defensive players for the season. That assist was also the 300th point of Hedman’s career. Just over six minutes later the “Other” Braydon (Coburn) would notch his fifth goal of the season to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead on a shorthanded two on one goal.

Tampa Bay would continue to hold the shots on goal advantage after outshooting the Sabres 14-5 in the second period alone. The Lightning would head to the second intermission up 2-1 thanks to the second period goals. Buffalo would not go quietly in this game as mid-way through the third, Evander Kane would tie the game. Jonathan Drouin would start this sequence in the Lightning’s end and rush towards the net with Hedman. Drouin would be unable to slip the puck past Ullmark, then Buffalo would rush into Tampa zone. Brian Gionta would rush down the boards and find Kane in front of the net for an easy tip in.

Both teams would trade opportunities until with 1:24 left in the game Braydon Point would notch his second goal of the game for a 3-2 Lightning lead. With one second left in the game and the Sabres net empty, Hedman would fire a shot down the ice for his 16th goal of the season. The Lightning end the season with a win. Too bad it didn’t have more meaning other than pride.

3 Stars of the Game

1st Star: Braydon Point – Two goals on the night to close out an amazing rookie season.

2nd Star: Victor Hedman – Continues his ascension to elite defenseman. Added an assist tonight for his 71st point of the season and 300th point for his career. Added an empty net goal with 1.0 seconds left for his 72nd point of the season.

3rd Star: Brayden Coburn – Notched a goal tonight.

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