Season Series: Tampa Bay and Buffalo square off in the first of four meetings on the season, as well as the first of two to be played between the teams in a four-day span. Last year the clubs split all four matchups, winning two apiece, including one each at home and the other in the visiting team’s arena.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay plays its second straight game against a team that comes in to the St. Pete Times Forum on a three-game win streak. The Lightning snapped a five-game losing skid and earned its first home win of the season in the team’s last outing with a 4-1 victory over the Islanders. While the Lightning hope to turn the lone victory into a nice win streak, Buffalo comes in looking to extend its own current stretch without a loss to four consecutive games.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts wrap up the final contest of a three-game home stand. Following the bout with the Sabres, Tampa Bay will conclude a home and home series with Buffalo at HSBC Arena on Tuesday in the Lightning’s first match of a two-game road swing that ends in Nashville two nights later. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Tampa Bay’s 4-1 victory over the Islanders on Thursday night, its first at home on the year, was not so much that its veteran stars provided plenty of offense, but rather its defense which stepped up to limit New York to just 17 shots on goal, the fewest Tampa Bay has allowed all season. The strong effort in front of goaltender Mathieu Garon made it a pretty easy night for the Bolts net minder, who stopped 16 shots faced to earn his first victory in a Lightning uniform. After being whistled for 11 infractions good for 33 penalty minutes on Monday night against Florida, a game in which the Panthers scored five times on the power play, the Lightning played a much more structured and disciplined game versus the Islanders, as it committed just three penalties on the night.
SABRES – Buffalo closes out a four-game road trip in Tampa Bay before it hosts the Lightning in its home arena on Tuesday night, which marks the first contest of a five-game home stand for the Sabres. The club comes in on a three-game win streak after dropping its first and only game of the season to this point last Friday against Carolina. Buffalo had won each of its first two games prior to the loss as well. While the Sabres offense has not been great, it has been enough. The team has scored exactly three goals in each of its past four games and has given up no more than two in its last three straight. The club’s last outing, a 3-0 shutout of Florida, provided an even better showing. Thomas Vanek scored twice and Jason Pominville added a goal, while Ryan Miller stopped all 22 shots against to earn his first whitewash of the season.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron comes in riding a five-game point streak, the team’s longest by a single player this season. Vincent Lecavalier also has goals in two straight games for the Bolts, while Teddy Purcell has a goal and two assists in his last pair of games as well. Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek has three goals in his past two games and Jason Pominville has five points in his previous three games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, out indefinitely); SABRES – Jochen Hecht (concussion, out indefinitely).
Notable Quotable: “That was obviously the best we have played as a unit of five on the ice, and as you can see in the results, we held them to under 20 shots, and that's the way we are used to playing. Everyone just kind of bought in a little more, and sometimes the forwards get stretched out a little bit more and get a little too excited to get going. So I think everybody just kind of slowed down to help each other out. The defense played great and Garon was there for the big saves he had to make.” – Lightning forward Ryan Malone, on the team’s most recent win against the Islanders that snapped a five-game losing streak
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