Last 10: Tampa Bay (2-7-1); Buffalo (4-4-2)
Season Series: Tampa Bay and Buffalo meet for the third time tonight in the second-to-last game of the season series between the two clubs. Buffalo earned a pair of points in each of the first two games, with a shootout win on Oct. 24 at the St. Pete Times Forum and with an additional victory in its home arena on Jan. 6. The Bolts and Sabres will face off for the final time on Mar. 27 in Buffalo.
The Big Story: Antero Niittymaki has not allowed more than two goals in 12 of his last 16 starts, including his most recent stretch of three straight, and will face off against Vezina Trophy front runner Ryan Miller tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. Miller, however, has given up six goals in his last two games, including three in a span of six minutes on Tuesday against Atlanta, and was pulled before Buffalo went on to lose its third straight. The Sabres, who lead the Northeast Division by just three points over Ottawa, are still seeking their first win on their current five-game road trip, while the Lightning look to conclude the back half of their four-game home stand with a pair of victories before facing the Sabres again next week at HSBC Arena.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay is looking to earn its first win on its current home stand after falling in the first two matches by just a single goal. The Lightning dropped a hard-fought battle to the Coyotes 2-1 on Tuesday night, mounting a late second-period comeback after going behind two goals to open the game. Todd Fedoruk scored for the Lightning and earned his third point in as many games, adding a goal to a pair of assists recorded in his previous two matches. Mark Parrish and Brandon Bochenski also tallied assists in the game to complement a 26-save effort by Niittymaki.
SABRES – With 82 points, the Northeast Division leaders hold a slim margin over a close-second Ottawa team, which could gain some ground in the standings if Buffalo’s road woes continue. The Sabres have fallen in each of their last three games, including the first two away from home as they prepare to take on the Bolts tonight. The most recent loss came on Tuesday at Atlanta when three different Thrashers scored under six minutes to open the first period. Jason Pominville, Matt Ellis and Tim Kennedy chipped away at the deficit by recording a goal in each period, with Kennedy’s tying the game at 7:02, but Atlanta’s Jim Slater responded with the game-winner just six minutes later.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Todd Fedoruk has a three-game point streak with a goal and two assists, and Vincent Lecavalier has scored five times in his last seven contests. Brandon Bochenski also has two points in his last three games.
- Buffalo’s Tim Connolly has three assists in his last two and Jason Pominville is riding a four-game point streak with a pair of goals and four assists.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – David Hale (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve), Zenon Konopka (back spasms, out 1-2 weeks), Ryan Malone (upper body, day-to-day) and Mattias Ohlund (lower body, day-to-day). SABRES – Drew Stafford (groin).
Quotable: “We’ve scored two goals in the last two games and when you’re not scoring goals and looking at our stats, you better go in front of the net. I’m not questioning guys’ courage. You have to have courage to go in front of the net and you have to have courage to go back in your own end and take a hit to make a play in the corner. That’s courage.” – Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet
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