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Lightning (10-7-2, 22 Points) at Sabres (8-10-3, 19 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-5-1); Buffalo (5-4-1)
Season Series: This is the first of four meetings. Last season, Buffalo won three straight in regulation after barely escaping the St. Pete Times Forum with a 3-2 shootout win in the first meeting on Oct. 24.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has won two straight on the road after exploding for eight goals in the team’s last game on Thursday in Philadelphia. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos each extended point streaks to seven games, while St. Louis also established a career-high five assists, as did Stamkos, but with a five-point game and his third career hat trick. Thursday’s total gave the Lightning 12 goals in their last two games.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay wraps up a three-game road set at the HSBC Center tonight. Tampa Bay comes in at 2-0-0 on the trip after earning victories on consecutive nights on Long Island and in Philadelphia. The Lightning have been on a scoring tear as of late, as 14 different players landed on the score sheet Thursday night in Philadelphia. Brett Clark, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone each had power-play goals and Nate Thompson, Adam Hall and Steve Downie also scored. The eight goals in the win also tied a franchise record for the most in a single road contest. Tampa Bay also set a season-high record with 24 blocked shots in the win.
SABRES – Buffalo hosts the Lightning tonight in the first game of a four-game set at home. Buffalo, who plays in the final half of a back-to-back set tonight, comes in with wins in three of the last four. The Sabres are coming off a 4-2 victory last night against the Los Angeles Kings, in which Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek, Jochen Hecht and Andrej Sekera each had goals. Buffalo rallied for three unanswered goals and Ryan Miller also turned aside 34 shots in the win. Only two weeks ago, Buffalo was languishing in last place in the Northeast Division and was next-to-last in the Eastern Conference, but the Sabres are 5-1-1 since.
Who’s Hot: The NHL’s leading scorer, Steven Stamkos, had five points on Thursday in Philadelphia and comes in with nine goals and six assists on his current seven-game point streak, while Martin St. Louis enters tonight also riding a seven-game point streak with three goals and 11 assists during that span. Defenseman Brett Clark also has a pair of power-play goals in two straight. Buffalo’s Derek Roy has 10 points in his last seven, while Thomas Vanek has nine points in his last six contests.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Simon Gagne (neck, placed on Injured Reserve) and Vincent Lecavalier (hand, placed on Injured Reserve). SABRES – Drew Stafford (upper body), Craig Rivet (flu) and Patrick Kaleta (upper body).
Quotable: “It was crazy. I’ve never been involved in anything like this at any level. It was fun to be a part of it and it was fun to contribute, but at the end of the day, we wanted to win this game.” – Steven Stamkos, commenting after the team’s wild 8-7 win in Philadelphia on Thursday night
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