Lightning Jolt Sabres

The Tampa Bay Lightning are no longer playing like a second-division team.

Pavel Kubina scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and Dan Cloutier stopped 28 shots as the Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 Friday night.

"The whole team is playing better defense," Tampa Bay defenseman Petr Svoboda said. "To play team hockey, that is the key. We can't fall a sleep and win hockey games."

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  • The Lightning, the league's worst team the past two seasons, have won four of six. They also posted the 100th home victory in franchise history, improving to 100-146-34 overall at Tampa Bay.

    Buffalo had its four-game winning streak stopped. Rookie Maxim Afinogenov scored on the Sabres' first shot 45 seconds into the first period, giving him a goal in each of his first two NHL games.

    "We had plenty of chances to win a hockey game," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "You have to bury your chances on the road. We gave them some life."

    Kubina snapped a 15-game goal-scoring drought and gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead with 93 seconds left in the second period. The rebound goal from point-blank range came seven seconds after Kubina completed serving a hooking penalty and joined a Tampa Bay rush.

    "Confidence makes all the difference in this game," Kubina said. "About seven games ago, I started playing better. I finally got my confidence back."

    Darcy Tucker made it 4-2 with 14 minutes left in the third period. Steve Martins scored a first-period shorthanded goal and Mike Silinger, who also had three assists, added a power-play goal during the second period.

    Cloutier preserved the two-goal lead midway through the third period, making five saves during a Buffalo power play. He also made a nifty glove stop on Stu Barnes' drive from slot later in the period.

    "In the third period, Cloutier made two or three great saves to hold us at bay," Ruff said.

    "Buffalo is a team that never quits," said Cloutier, who faced 15 shots in the third period. "We played well defensively in the third period. We allowed a few more shots, but the guys took care of the rebounds."

    Barnes scored in the second period for the Sabres. Buffalo is 0-7-1 when trailing after two periods.

    The Sabres lost defenseman Jason Woolley (ribs) and Rhett Warrener (ankle) to injuries. Both will miss at least Saturday night's game at Florida.

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