Lightning, on Steven Stamkos’ 1st goal of season, defeat Sabres 4-1

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the season Saturday, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1.

Erik Condra, Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Brown also scored for Tampa Bay (2-0) and goaltender Ben Bishop had 24 saves in the victory.


Nicolas Deslauriers scored Buffalo’s only goal. Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson was beaten for all four goals while filling in for injured starter Robin Lehner.

The Sabres (0-2) started well, getting off two shots on goal in the first minute. Tampa Bay didn’t get a shot on Johnson until 8:35, and moments later forced the goalie into a sprawling rebound save on Brown.

A cross-checking call on Stamkos put the Sabres on the power play midway through the period, and Bishop stymied Tyler Ennis before taking a swing at an in-the-crease Marcus Foligno. Bishop was also there to stifle a hard one-time shot from Zemgus Girgensons after the power play.

Kucherov dropped his gloves and stick after taking a wayward stick to the face from Josh Gorges, leaving the ice with a facial injury late in the period.

In the second period, Condra scored at 9:14. Off a faceoff to the right of Johnson, the Lightning wing put a rising wrist shot through the traffic and over the goalie’s right shoulder to make it 1-0. Deslauriers evened things up with a backhander that eluded Bishop. Sam Reinhart and Josh Gorges picked up assists on the goal at 13:55.

Tampa took a led into the second intermission when Kucherov sent a hard, clean wrister over Johnson’s glove hand.

A left leg injury sent Tampa forward Tyler Johnson to the locker room early in the third. Johnson was helped from the ice and down the tunnel.

A tricky bounce allowed Stamkos to pad Tampa Bay’s lead. Skating below the end line, Ryan Callahan threw a puck off the side of the goal, and Stamkos buried the flickering puck behind Johnson.

The Lightning added a fourth goal at 12:41 when Garrison’s shot deflected to beat Johnson high.

NOTES: The Sabres placed Lehner on the injured list before the game, calling up Nathan Lieuwen to back up Johnson. … Tampa Bay scratched Cedric Paquette, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Nesterov. … Buffalo captain Brian Gionta missed a second straight game with a lower body injury.

Nick Mendola, The Associated Press