NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 18th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (13-15-4) at Tampa Bay Lightning (17-10-4), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Buffalo was roughed up in the first stop on its Florida trip, but the Sabres hope to turn things around when they close the swing tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sabres were dealt a 6-2 loss by the Florida Panthers on Friday, marking Buffalo's fifth loss in its last six road games. The Sabres, who are 6-6-3 as the guest this season, hope they can change their road luck tonight at St. Pete Times Forum.
Buffalo has actually had a great deal of success in Tampa recently, winning two straight and nine of its last 10 games at the Forum.
However, the Lightning did record a 2-1 regulation win in Buffalo on Nov. 20 to begin this year's season series. The Sabres had won all four encounters with Tampa last season and despite last month's setback, Buffalo has still won six of eight and 11 out of the last 14 encounters between the clubs.
Marty Reasoner scored twice in the Panthers' rout of the Sabres at BankAtlantic Center. Derek Roy and Tim Connolly each had a goal for the Sabres, who had won four of six coming into Friday's game.
Ryan Miller started in net but was pulled after the first period after allowing four goals on 10 shots. Patrick Lalime made 14 saves the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Lightning have won two straight games and have gone past regulation in each of their last three outings. Tampa was dealt a shootout loss by Edmonton last Friday, but has rebounded with an overtime win over Vancouver and a shootout victory against Atlanta.
Tampa ended a three-game road trip with Saturday's victory over the Canucks and then began a three-game homestand Wednesday against the Thrashers. Victor Hedman scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Lightning a 2-1 win over Atlanta.
After the first three rounds went scoreless, Hedman skated in and snapped a wrister into the left side past Ondrej Pavelec. Evander Kane then tried to sneak a shot between the pads of Mike Smith, but the goaltender came up with the save for the win.
Sean Bergenheim had the lone goal in regulation while Smith stopped 27 shots for the Lightning, who haven't won three in a row since a season-best five- game winning streak from Nov. 17-24.
"The points are pretty important [against divisional teams]," Bergenheim said. "We definitely want to win all of them."
Tampa Bay has won four of its last five home games and has a solid 8-2-2 record as the host this year. The Bolts will close this residency Monday against Carolina.
12/18 11:19:24 ET