Cedric Paquette had him one heck of a game against the Buffalo Sabres, and in so many more ways than his lone assist.
He didn’t need it, as the energy he brought to the game helped the Tampa Bay Lightning keep the pressure on the lowly Sabres until they finally broke them.
Cedric Paquette: Hustle Aids In Team Victory
Last time the Lightning faced Buffalo, Andrei Vasilevskiy only had to make ten saves (on 11 shots) to ensure a victory for Tampa Bay – and while Ben Bishop was a little more active (stopped 20-of-21 shots) it was more of the same this time around.
Steven Stamkos scored his 22nd goal of the season, putting him in a tie with Vladimir Tarasenko for third in the league, on a beautiful saucer pass from Jonathan Drouin (15 assists now, fourth among rookies) but it was Paquette who was the star of the game.
Having Stamkos and Drouin as well as rising stars Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat who – all with speed to boot – most would expect the Lightning to play a fast tempo, north and south game with a lot of one and done possessions.
On the opening goal, not even four minutes into the game, Paquette showed the team’s ability to grind it out along the boards, fighting off the much bigger Brian Flynn, followed by Tyler Myers before sending the puck down behind the net for Ryan Callahan who took the puck to the net and get a shot off that Valtteri Filppula put home.
Paquette was credited with two shots on goal, two hits, and two blocked shots in 14:25 of ice time. His strong play on the penalty kill continued, earning him the third most time shorthanded among forwards behind Johnson and Palat.
His hard work paid off, turning into a breakaway and a scoring opportunity all while shorthanded.
While he has shown a penchant for scoring – he scored all five of his goals in a five game span earlier in the season – Paquette’s bread-and-butter will always be his physical play and endless motor. Goals may be the final say so in who wins and loses but having a game like Paquette had certainly goes a long way in help decide those games.
Anthony covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers. He is also currently a Featured Columnist for Last Word on Sports, and has held editorial positions on multiple Fansided websites and the now defunct The Farm Club.