NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 19th (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (33-29-10) at Tampa Bay Lightning (32-32-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will try to add a victory to their point streak when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for tonight's battle between playoff hopefuls.
The Sabres, who are two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, have lost two straight, but both setbacks came after regulation, including Saturday's shootout loss at Florida. Buffalo's last four games have gone into overtime and the Sabres have played past regulation in eight of their last 15 contests, going 9-2-4 over that stretch.
"Any point you lose right now is a lot," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said after Saturday's loss to the Panthers. "Even a half point would be a lot. Any point we lose right now is a lot. We've gotta move on to the next game and try to get two."
Buffalo is tied with Winnipeg for the ninth seed in the conference and the clubs are just two behind Washington for the East's last postseason berth. The Capitals play tonight in Detroit, while the Jets are idle.
The Lightning, who are five points behind Buffalo in the East, have fared worse than the Sabres recently, losing two straight in regulation and posting a 1-4-1 mark in their last six trips to the ice.
Tampa Bay has gotten the better of the Sabres this year, however, and can complete a sweep of the season series tonight. The Lightning are 3-0 against Buffalo and the Bolts have won two of their last three home tests against the Sabres.
The Panthers defeated Buffalo, 3-2, on Saturday after Dmitry Kulikov scored the game-winning goal in the seventh round of the shootout. Kulikov waited for Sabres netminder Ryan Miller to make his move, faked to the backhand, and lifted the puck over the glove hand of the outstretched goaltender. Drew Stafford had a chance to extend the shootout for Buffalo, but his low, hard wrist shot was stopped by the right pad of Jose Theodore to seal the victory for the Panthers.
Tyler Ennis and Derek Roy scored in regulation for the Sabres, while Miller made 15 saves through regulation and overtime.
Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers will serve the final part of a three-game suspension tonight and he'll be eligible for Wednesday's home test against Montreal. Forward Nathan Gerbe (upper body) is questionable for tonight.
The Lightning were dealt their second straight 3-1 loss Saturday against visiting St. Louis. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for the Blues and had his shutout bid end when Brendan Mikkelson scored Tampa's lone goal with 4:11 left in the third period.
"We tried to step on the gas there toward the end," Mikkelson said. "We never quit, we never stop battling, I think that's one of our trademarks as a team. It's something we take pride in is never quitting and battling until that final buzzer goes."
Dwayne Roloson stopped 18-of-21 shots in the loss.
Tampa Bay is 1-3 so far on a seven-game homestand and the Bolts are 21-13-2 as the host this season. The Sabres are just 15-18-2 on the road this year.
03/19 10:44:54 ET