Lightning (13-18-1, 27 Points) vs. Sabres (13-15-4, 30 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
This is the second of three meetings between the teams. The clubs faced off exactly one month ago to the day of Tuesday’s game, back on February 26 in Tampa Bay where the Lightning fell to the Sabres 2-1. Following Tuesday’s tilt, the two teams will conclude the season set on April 14 in Buffalo.
The Big Story:
The teams have put together a pair of streaks, but with each one headed in opposite directions. Tampa Bay has lost three straight, and following Guy Boucher’s dismissal on Sunday morning, is not only looking to rebound from the skid, but is also still in need of a head coach to serve as Boucher’s replacement. Buffalo, meanwhile, has earned a victory in each of its past three consecutive games to remain just three points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot.
LIGHTNING – Following a three-game road trip through Canada, the Bolts return home to begin a three-game homestand Tuesday night, that also sees the club host games in front of the hometown fans on Friday night and next Tuesday night, respectively. Tampa Bay looks to turn around its recent troubles, which continued Sunday night in Winnipeg, even with the Bolts putting forth one of their better efforts of the season. Steven Stamkos and Cory Conacher each had goals, with the latter tally bringing Tampa Bay to within one goal with 15 minutes still to play in regulation. Overall on the night, the Lightning overcame a pair of two-goal deficits to come within one twice. Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec, though, made 23 saves and was strong down the stretch to earn Winnipeg the victory.
SABRES – Buffalo skates in the middle game of a three-game road trip that began in Montreal on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens. Following Tuesday’s game, the Sabres will then head down to Sunrise to complete the trip with the finale coming at the BB&T Center against the Panthers. Once dead last in the Eastern Conference, Buffalo has revived itself, in large part thanks to interim coach Ron Rolston. Since Rolston’s arrival, the team has vaulted itself back into the playoff picture, as it enters Tuesday just three points out of a qualifying spot. The Sabres continued their winning trend on Saturday at the Bell Centre, where Thomas Vanek scored twice and Ryan Miller turned back 38 of 39 shots to earn Buffalo its third straight win. The Sabres were outshot 39-18, but didn't break, as they kept any hope of a postseason berth alive.
Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis has four assists in his past five games for the Bolts, while Sami Salo and Eric Brewer are currently each enjoying a pair of two-game assist streaks. Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis has collected two goals and six points over his past four games and Cody Hodgson has racked up four assists in his past two contests.
LIGHTNING – Vincent Lecavalier (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Ryan Malone (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Benoit Pouliot (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Anders Lindback (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Upper Body, Day-To-Day) and BJ Crombeen (Lower Body, Day-To-Day).
SABRES – Andrej Sekera (Upper Body, Day-To-Day) and Alexander Sulzer (Knee, Placed On Injured Reserve).
Twitter Stat Pack:
With an assist on Stamkos’ goal, St. Louis notched his 892nd career point to move into a tie with Peter Bondra for 100th place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Tampa Bay averages 3.22 goals per game, good for third in the league, while Buffalo averages 3.06 goals against per game, which ranks 26th in the league.
Buffalo has the league’s worst power play at 12.9 percent.
The Lightning have a .733 win percentage when scoring the first goal, ranking eighth in the league.
“We all share the responsibility of where we sit today. There's a lot to play for. There's fighting for a playoff spot, playing for your teammates, playing for your own job, playing for your position.” – General Manager Steve Yzerman, on what he feels there is still left to play for even following the dismissal of Guy Boucher
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