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The Tampa Bay Lightning are on a bit of a hot streak and in the thick of the playoff hunt, but that hasn't exactly thrilled coach John Tortorella. A win over the best team in the Eastern Conference might.
The Lightning try for their season-high fourth straight victory Saturday as they try to avoid a seventh consecutive loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Tampa Bay beat Washington 5-4 on Thursday for its third consecutive one-goal victory, moving into a tie with Toronto for eighth place in the East.
"There is so much hockey to play," Tortorella said. "Things change so quickly the way the standings are this year. I don't think you can get too down if you're in 12th or 13th place. I don't think you can get too high if you're in the eighth, seventh or sixth spot."
Tampa Bay has won three straight for the fifth time this season. The Lightning have not won four in a row since a five-game winning streak Nov. 27-Dec. 10, 2005.
Thursday's victory improved Tampa to 22-21-2, giving the team more regulation wins than regulation losses for the first time since it was 14-13-2.
"It's just nice to be above water. ... It's a good feeling. We've been on the other side for a while," Lightning winger Martin St. Louis said. "Hopefully we just keep playing well and stay on that side for a while."
St. Louis, who scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period against the Capitals, has five goals and eight assists during a nine-game point streak.
He is tied with Vincent Lecavalier for the team lead with 59 points. Lecavalier had two goals and an assist Thursday, and has five goals and five assists during a five-game point streak.
Lecavalier and St. Louis have accounted for all of Tampa's goals in two meetings this season with Buffalo (31-10-3), but the Lightning were outscored 11-3 in losing both as they were held scoreless in 12 power-play opportunities.
Tampa has lost six straight to the Sabres, and four in a row at Buffalo since Dec. 6, 2003. Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere had three goals in the most recent matchup, a 4-1 win in Tampa Bay on Dec. 5.
Buffalo had won two straight before losing 4-2 to the injury-riddled Maple Leafs on Thursday. Chris Drury and Thomas Vanek scored for the Sabres, who were coming off a 2-1 win in Chicago the previous night.
"They were a little more desperate than we were," Briere said. "It was one of those nights. We have to forget about it and move on."
The Sabres went 2-of-6 on the power play, picking up more than one goal with the man advantage for the first time in 10 games and just the second time in 22 contests.
"We were happy to get a couple of goals tonight, but we really need to hunker down on five-on-threes and four-on-threes," center Adam Mair told the team's official Web site. "Obviously, we're trying to score but we just need to execute a little better."
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