NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, October 22nd (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (5-1-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (2-3-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will close out a four-game road trip tonight in the opener of a home-and-home series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum.
Buffalo has won the first three portions of its road swing and improved to 5-1-0 this season with Thursday's 3-0 win at Florida. Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller recorded his first shutout this season and 23rd of his career with 22 saves and has posted five shutouts in each of the last three seasons.
Thomas Vanek scored twice, while Jason Pominville added the other goal and two assists for Buffalo, which had an impressive 38-22 advantage in shots and is unbeaten on the road this season (4-0). Buffalo opened 4-0 on the road two years ago and head coach Lindy Ruff is certainly pleased.
"I thought that was probably our best game of the year when it comes to supporting the puck, coming out together, coming out with speed," Ruff said. "We owed (Miller) one, so I thought that was important, too, for the way we played in Montreal. I thought that last 40 minutes and especially when leading we stayed away from any of the odd-numbered stuff and we were going to make Florida earn something if they were going to get it."
Vanek extended his point streak to six games and has 10 points on the season. Sabres center Jochen Hecht (concussion) was scratched at the start of the game and is questionable for Saturday. After visiting the Lightning this weekend, Buffalo will head back to upstate New York for a five-game homestand versus Tampa Bay, Columbus, Florida, Philadelphia and Calgary.
Meanwhile, the Lightning had lost five straight games before posting a 4-1 home win over the New York Islanders on Thursday. Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and an assist, while Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos and Brett Clark each had a goal for Tampa Bay, which received 16 saves from netminder Mathieu Garon.
It was Tampa Bay's first win since a season-opening victory at Carolina.
"It was a complete game," said Stamkos, who was appearing in his 250th career game. "Matty played great in net, we stayed disciplined, we stayed out of the box and we got one on the power play. If you could have drawn it up on the board, that's the way we wanted to play and we did. And we saw the positive result."
The Lightning, who reached last season's Eastern Conference finals, will hit the road to Buffalo and Nashville after tonight's tilt.
Buffalo and Tampa Bay split four meetings a year ago, but the Sabres have won 19 of 24 and 20 of the last 26 contests in this series. Buffalo has won three of four and 10 of its last 12 trips to St. Pete Times Forum.
10/22 10:58:41 ET