GAME: Buffalo Sabres (23-11-1) at Tampa Bay Lightning (18-14-3).
TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The last six weeks were very kind to Buffalo goaltender Martin Biron.
Now with his personal 13-start winning streak over, he will try to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time in nearly two months and help the Sabres avoid a sweep in Florida when they meet the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Biron is 2-0-1 in his last three games in Tampa and has turned aside 77 of 83 shots to go with a 1.95 goals-against average. He has not lost consecutive starts since losing three straight from Nov. 4-9.
Biron was going for his 14th straight win, which was last done by Tom Barrasso of the Pittsburgh Penguins from March 9-April 9, 1993. But Biron's amazing run ended with a 4-1 loss Thursday to the Florida Panthers when he gave up three second-period goals.
"I made a mistake on their second goal to give the puck up on the wall," Biron said. "I'll take the blame for that. They created the chances and created more opportunities and they got the goals."
The loss also ended the Sabres' seven-game overall winning streak and nine-game road winning streak.
Tampa Bay will try to avoid its fourth loss in a row. The Lightining got a goal and an assist from Canadian Olympic team selection Brad Richards in a 4-2 defeat Thursday to the New York Rangers.
"A couple of guys aren't playing as good as they can," said goaltender John Grahame, a U.S. Olympic team selection. "We haven't had a real team effort and that's what I think we need to get out of this."
Richards' goal came on the power play. That extended Tampa Bay's power-play goals-scoring streak to a team-record 10 games. Buffalo has given up six power-play goals in its last four games.
Richards, playing the best hockey of his five-year career, has two goals and nine assists during a eight-game points streak. He has a goal and three assists in a three-game scoring streak against Buffalo.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 22): Sabres - 47 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northeast Division. Lightning - 39 points, 2nd place, 7 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 15 goals; Teppo Numminen, 20 assists; Kotalik and Tim Connolly, 25 points; Maxim Afinogenov, 40 PIM. Lightning - Fredrik Modin, 16 goals; Richards, 28 assists; Vaclav Prospal and Brad Richards, 40 points; Pavel Kubina, 54 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 22): Sabres - Power play: 21.5 percent (44 for 205), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (154 for 184), 9th. Lightning - Power play: 15.7 percent (34 for 217), tied for 20th. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (147 for 179), tied for 16th.
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Biron (15-5-1, 0 SO, 3.09 GAA); Ryan Miller (7-4-0, 0, 2.59). Lightning - Grahame (14-11-1, 1, 2.86); Sean Burke (4-2-2, 0, 2.99).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 13, Sabres, 4-3 (SO). At Tampa, Fla., Daniel Briere scored in regulation and added a goal in the shootout for the Sabres. The Lightning got goals from Richards, Prospal and Vincent Lecavalier.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 12-6-0 on the road; Lightning - 10-6-1 at home.
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