The perennial All-Star goaltender is intent on doing just that.
Khabibulin made 26 saves in a 1-1 tie against the Buffalo Sabres
on Sunday night, pulling the Lightning within one point of
first-place Washington in the Southeast Division.
Khabibulin is 7-0-2 with a 1.31 goals-against average and a .950
save percentage in his last nine starts. His unbeaten streak tied a
franchise record set by Darren Puppa in 1996, the only year Tampa
Bay reached the postseason.
"He made some huge saves in the third period,'' Lightning coach
John Tortorella said. "He has found his game at a very important
time. He's very instrumental in getting us a point tonight.''
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff will have to wait until at least
Wednesday to break the club record for victories. He is tied with
Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman at 210.
"We battled to the bitter end,'' Ruff said. "We could have
easily won the game. We skated better than they did in the third
period, although they might have been just trying to preserve the
one point, which was important to them.
"Sometimes you look over and they weren't taking a lot of
chances. They were maybe just trying to get it to overtime to get
the extra point.''
Khabibulin said there was no letdown after Tampa Bay rallied
from a three-goal deficit to beat the streaking Colorado Avalanche
4-3 Friday night.
"It's not like we won the last game and made it to the
playoffs,'' Khabibulin said. "We still have a job to do. We need
some points and wins.''
Both have been hard to come by for Tampa Bay against Buffalo.
The Sabres are 6-0-3 in their last nine meetings and haven't lost
in the series since Feb. 2, 2001.
Sabres backup goalie Mika Noronen, coming off his first career
shutout Saturday night at Florida, saw his record go to 1-7-2
despite stopping 27 of 28 shots.
Vincent Lecavalier was the only one to beat him, scoring his
career-best 26th goal on a power play midway through the second
period. Lecavalier was alone on the left side of the net when he
took a pass from Brad Richards, skating in from the right corner.
The assist gave Richards 62 points, tying his career high.
Lecavalier was in the penalty box when right wing Ales Kotalik
tied it less than two minutes later in a scramble in front of
Miroslav Satan set up Kotalik, who entered the game tied with
Detroit left wing Henrik Zetterberg atop the rookie goal-scoring
list with 17. Satan extended his point-scoring streak to nine games
Vaclav Prospal failed to record a point for Tampa Bay for the
first time in nine games.
Tampa Bay is 8-2-2 since Feb. 15. The only losses were to
Buffalo and Detroit. ... Buffalo C Curtis Brown had scored in his
last seven games before being shut out Sunday. ... The Lightning
have improved their point total five seasons in a row. ... Tampa
Bay D Brad Lukowich left the game with a hip injury.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Amalie Arena Location: Tampa, Florida
Referees: Tom Kowal, Kevin Pollock Linesmen: Jonny Murray, Pierre Racicot
Attendance: 19,907 (103.7% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
No scoring this period
Vincent Lecavalier (26)
(Power Play) Assists: Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis
Ales Kotalik (18)
(Power Play) Assists: Miroslav Satan, Alexei Zhitnik