Lightning (17-21-3, 37 Points) at Sabres (17-19-6, 40 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; NHL Network (Canada); AM 970 WFLA
This is the third and final meeting of the year between the two Eastern Conference clubs. The two teams have split the first pair of meetings on the year, with each team’s victory coming by just a single goal. Tampa Bay avenged an earlier season loss on March 26 by a 2-1 score, exactly one month to the day after Buffalo bested the Lightning by the same total.
The Big Story:
Tampa Bay comes into Sunday’s game with losses in four of its past five, looking to rebound from Saturday night’s defeat at Washington as the team concludes a back-to-back set. Buffalo, meanwhile, looks to make it two straight in the win column and inch closer to the eighth and final playoff spot, from which it currently sits six points out.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay continues on its four-game road trip, with the team playing an additional two games in Winnipeg and Montreal, respectively, before returning home. The Bolts have dropped two straight, and have just one win in their past five games, but are coming off some momentum following a thrilling comeback on Saturday, albeit in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Capitals. Richard Panik and Martin St. Louis each had two goals, but it was Teddy Purcell’s game-tying tally with approximately three minutes left in regulation that erased an early 4-0 deficit and sent the contest into the extra sessions, ensuring the team at least a point. Mike Green had the game-winner in overtime for Washington, but it still left for small consolation on Tampa Bay’s part, especially after experiencing a scary moment when Nate Thompson took a puck to the side of the face, not to mention having to use both goaltenders in what was just the first of four games to be played away from home this week.
SABRES – Buffalo hosts the Lightning as it wraps up a three-game home stand, on which it has split each of the first two games with a win and a loss each. The Sabres countered Thursday’s 5-1 defeat to Montreal with a 1-0 shutout of the Flyers on Saturday, helped along by a late goal from Christian Ehrhoff just 17 seconds into the third. Jhonas Enroth recorded the third shutout of his career, each of which have come when his team has scored just a single goal. Still, it was the first time the Sabres blanked the Flyers since December 4, 1998, when Buffalo won 3-0.
Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis is riding a four-game point streak with a pair of goals and four assists in that span. Teddy Purcell also has three goals and five points in his past three games. For Buffalo, Kevin Porter is enjoying a three-game point streak with a goal and two helpers over that time.
LIGHTNING – Anders Lindback (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Upper Body, Day-To-Day) and Nate Thompson (Questionable). SABRES – Tyler Myers (Leg), Alex Sulzer (Knee) and Ville Leino (Upper Body).
“We had a game plan in place, and the last 10 minutes in the first period, we didn’t execute that at all. But the guys talked, and they realized the fancy stuff wasn’t working, so they got a little more blue collar, and you saw the result.” – Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, following a hard-earned point last night in Washington
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