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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, November 20th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (10-7-2) at Buffalo Sabres (8-10-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to win three straight games for the first time since the opening week of the season when they visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight at HSBC Arena.

The Lightning won their first three games of the season from Oct. 9-14, but have posted consecutive victories on just two occasion since then. Tampa Bay's current two-game win streak comes on the heels of three straight losses.

The Bolts ended their slide with a 4-2 road win against the New York Islanders on Wednesday and then claimed an 8-7 decision in a wild game the following night in Philadelphia. Tampa, which is 6-5-1 as the visiting team this year, is completing a three-game road trip tonight.

Steven Stamkos registered a hat trick and also posted an assist in helping the Lightning secure the win Thursday against the Flyers. Stamkos potted his NHL- leading 17th, 18th and 19th goals of the season while raising his league-high point total to 34.

Martin St. Louis collected a career-high five assists and Nate Thompson scored the go-ahead goal in the third period for the Lightning, who erased three two- goal deficits and won for just the third time in nine games (3-5-1) this month.

"It wasn't our best game but we were very opportunistic," St. Louis said.

Mike Smith took over in net after Dan Ellis gave up four goals on 10 shots in the first period. Smith made 19 saves the rest of the way to pick up his first win since October 22.

Stamkos and St. Louis are both riding seven-game point streaks at the moment. Stamkos has nine goals and five assists during his run, while St. Louis has three goals and 10 helpers.

Mattias Ritola will be out again for the Lightning after the Swedish forward was suspended for two games for a hit on Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders. He served the first contest of that ban on Thursday.

The Sabres shoot for a fourth straight home victory this evening as they play the second contest of a four-game stay at HSBC Arena. Buffalo began the stint with last night's 4-2 victory over Los Angeles.

Tim Connolly scored the go-ahead power-play goal in the third period and both he and Thomas Vanek finished with a goal and an assist. Jason Pominville added a pair of helpers, Derek Roy extended his points streak to seven straight games with an assist and Ryan Miller made 34 saves.

"That's the best third period we've played (at home)," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "I didn't like the way we started. We weren't clicking, we weren't working."

The Sabres' home win streak comes after an 0-6-1 start in western New York and the club is 5-1-1 in its last seven games overall.

Roy has three goals and seven assists over his point streak, while Vanek has three goals and six helpers over a six-game run of his own.

The Sabres won all four meetings with Tampa last year and have taken six of seven and 11 of the last 13 encounters between the clubs. The Lightning have also dropped three straight, five of six and nine of their last 11 tilts in western New York.

11/20 10:30:23 ET

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