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Peter Budaj fitting perfectly with Lightning

Peter Budaj makes a save on the Rangers' Rick Nash.

AP photo

Peter Budaj makes a save on the Rangers' Rick Nash.



Lost in Brayden Point's brilliant 21st birthday performance Monday was the play of veteran backup Peter Budaj.

The Lightning might not have had a chance in its 3-2 win over the Rangers had it not been for Budaj, who made 13 first-period saves to keep it close. Budaj, making his first start in 10 days, thwarted a Chris Kreider breakaway on the opening shift.

"He doesn't stop that, who knows where our momentum goes?" coach Jon Cooper said.

Budaj's play allowed the Lightning to survive a bad first period tied. And with the game tied 2-2 in the third, he made another great stop on a Jimmy Vesey backdoor chance off the rush.

"Without him, it would have been a different game for sure," Point said.

Budaj has made just two starts for the Lightning, a loss in Pittsburgh Mar. 3. The fact Budaj is able to perform so well in this role could play dividends down the stretch (and a strong audition for the backup spot next year). Starter Andrei Vasilevskiyi has been hot, 5-0-1 in his last six starts, but he can't play all of the final 14 games.

As Cooper said, Monday was Budaj's "turn in the rotation." And he certainly didn't disappoint.

More notes: There was no morning skate in Ottawa today, but Vasilevskiy is expected to start....C Vladislav Namestnikov, who reaggravated his lower body injury Monday, would appear questionable. Cooper said there were no magical adjustments made after the first period Monday night? "It was coach come in and direct some feet in some butts," Cooper said. Credit rookie Gabriel Dumont, whose strong forecheck and savvy tip on a Jason Garrison gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead Monday... Byron Froese looked good in his Lightning debut, bringing a lot of energy and grit. He also had a great scoring chance in the first period...The Senators have won six straight but are banged-up, with Mark Stone out among others.


[Last modified: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 1:16pm]


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