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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 10th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (6-13-8) at Buffalo Sabres (13-11-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try for their first win in nearly three weeks when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for tonight's encounter at HSBC Arena.

The Lightning have lost eight straight contests, going 0-6-2 since posting their last victory in a November 21 game against Nashville. That 4-1 home win over the Predators is the only victory for interim head coach Rick Tocchet, who is 1-6-4 since taking over for the fired Barry Melrose.

Tonight, Tampa Bay is wrapping a four-game stint that included two games against Boston and a pair of matchups with the Sabres. The Bolts lost a home tilt against Boston last Thursday and was dealt another setback Saturday against visiting Buffalo.

The Lightning were then handed a 5-3 loss in Boston on Monday night. Phil Kessel finished with a goal and an assist to lead the Bruins to the victory at TD Banknorth Garden.

Vincent Lecavalier and Adam Hall lit the lamp for the Lightning and Paul Szczechura notched his first NHL goal in the loss.

Mike Smith made 19 saves and fell to 5-9-7 on the season. Smith faced the Sabres for the first time in his career in Saturday's game and gave up four goals on 27 shots in the losing effort.

Tampa Bay is just 3-7-3 as the visiting team this season and has lost seven straight and nine of its last 10 road test. The Lightning are making the second stop on four-game road trip tonight and will complete the swing with stops in Montreal and Ottawa.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has won back-to-back games on the heels of a three-game skid, having notched consecutive 4-3 decisions in Tampa and Pittsburgh.

The Sabres earned the win over the Penguins on Monday thanks to Thomas Vanek's 20th goal of the season that was the go-ahead score in the third period. The winning goal came at 6:13 of the final stanza.

Vanek, Ales Kotalik and Daniel Paille scored the final three goals of the game to give the comeback win to the Sabres. Vanek has notched a goal in back-to- back games and is tied with Philadelphia's Jeff Carter for the league lead. The Austrian sniper has 13 goals in 14 career games against the Lightning.

Derek Roy also scored for Buffalo, while Ryan Miller made 29 saves.

The Sabres are 7-6-1 as the host this year, but have lost four of their last six games on home ice.

Buffalo has won six of the last seven meetings with the Lightning and Tampa has dropped six of eight in western New York.

12/10 10:48:49 ET


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