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TV/RADIO: VERSUS; AM 970 WFLA
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
Season Series: It’s the second of four meetings on the year and the back end of a home and home series between the clubs. The Lightning and Sabres squared off in the first matchup of the season just three days ago at the St. Pete Times Forum where Tampa Bay earned a 3-0 shutout over Buffalo.
The Big Story: After losing five of the first six, Tampa Bay has now won two straight and heads into the HSBC Arena seeking to take two in a row from the Sabres. On Saturday, goaltender Mathieu Garon backstopped the Bolts to a 3-0 whitewash of the Sabres with a 21-save effort. He’ll get the call again in net after allowing just one goal in his previous two combined outings.
LIGHTNING - Tampa Bay plays the first match of a two-game road swing that concludes in Nashville on Thursday night. Tampa Bay enters the bout with Buffalo coming off consecutive wins for the first time all season. The recent success has been in large part due to the play of the team’s defensemen, who have just about done it all lately by providing both offense and defense in equal parts. On Saturday night, Pavel Kubina and Victor Hedman took care of the scoring, while Brett Clark extended his NHL-leading blocked shot total to 28 and Mathieu Garon stopped all 21 shots against to record his 20th career shutout. Martin St. Louis also added a goal. Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 7-1 in its previous pair of outings, while limiting them to an average of just 19 shots on goal, exemplifying the “defense first” mentality that head coach Guy Boucher has been preaching.
SABRES – Following a two-game road trip through the state of Florida over the weekend, Buffalo returns home to take on the Lightning as it opens up a five-game home stand. On Saturday, the Sabres became the second consecutive victim to have a three-game win streak disrupted by Tampa Bay after the Lightning also snapped the New York Islanders’ stretch of three straight victories just two nights prior. Ryan Miller allowed two goals on 25 shots while the Sabres’ inability to score a single goal proved uncharacteristic for a team that had delivered at least three goals in each of its six games on the season. The Sabres are not only looking to rediscover their offense which was absent in the most recent meeting, but also for its first win at home after dropping the only contest so far at the HSBC Arena, 4-3, to Carolina back on Oct. 14.
Who’s Hot: Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell each come in riding three-game point streaks, while goaltender Mathieu Garon has allowed just a single goal in his last 120 minutes. Garon’s 1.51 goals-against average ranks fourth among all NHL net minders who have appeared in at least three games this season. Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek was held off the scoresheet on Saturday, but already comes in with six goals and 10 points on the year through his team’s first seven games. He has also had success against the Lightning throughout his career, scoring 22 goals – including three hat tricks – in 25 games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING - Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve). SABRES – Jochen Hecht (concussion) and Tyler Myers (ankle, out indefinitely).
Notable Quotable: “We won this past game 3-0 so they’re going to be coming at us looking for revenge. They’re probably not happy about that so we have to be ready for them. They’re a very tough team to play, especially in their barn, but at the same time it’s exciting to play that team too.” – Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, on the challenge of playing the Sabres in consecutive games
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