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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, January 5th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (21-17-3) at Buffalo Sabres (26-12-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning hope to make it an Empire State sweep tonight when they visit the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.

The Bolts have begun their four-game road trip with consecutive victories over the Islanders and Rangers, including a 1-0 victory against the latter club on Tuesday. Vaclav Prospal scored the game's only goal with 1:13 left in overtime to lift the Lightning to the triumph at Madison Square Garden.

John Grahame made 36 saves in his second shutout of the season for Tampa Bay, which has won two straight after a two-game skid.

Prospal has posted four goals and seven assists in his last 14 games.

The Lightning, with 45 points, enter Thursday's action nine points behind first-place Carolina in the Southeast Division race.

Tampa, which is 10-8-2 on the road, will visit Boston on Saturday.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has lost two of its last three games on the heels of a 9-1 spurt. On Sunday the Sabres dropped a 2-1 tilt to visiting Florida. Gary Roberts scored the lone goal of the third period to lift the Panthers.

Henrik Tallinder registered the only tally for the Sabres. Maxim Afinogenov and Toni Lydman had the assists on the goal, while goaltender Ryan Miller made 18 saves in the loss.

Miller had won his first four starts after coming back from a broken thumb on December 19.

The Sabres enter the day's action with 54 points -- five behind East-leading Ottawa in the Northeast Division.

Buffalo, which is 13-6-1 at home, will host New Jersey on Saturday.

The Sabres are 2-0 against the Lightning this season, winning both games in Tampa.

01/05 10:29:55 ET

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