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Thursday, October 30th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (2-3-3) at Buffalo Sabres (6-1-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will try to avoid their third consecutive loss tonight, when they welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning for a matchup at HSBC Arena.

The Sabres began the season with four straight wins and, at 6-0-2, was without a regulation loss through the first eight games of the season. That changed on Monday night, when visiting Ottawa slammed the Sabres by a 5-2 score. Buffalo had also lost its previous outing when it dropped a shootout decision in Colorado last Saturday.

Jason Spezza scored two goals and assisted on another to help send the Senators to the easy win over Buffalo.

Clarke MacArthur and Derek Roy provided goals late in the third and Patrick Lalime made 23 saves for the Sabres.

Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek has been held without a point in two straight games, but still leads the Sabres in goals (8) and points (11) this season.

Tonight will mark the season debut for Sabres forward Paul Gaustad, who had been out since undergoing surgery to repair ligaments in his finger. Gaustad played in all 82 games for Buffalo in 2007-08 and set career highs in goals (10) and assists (26).

The Sabres, who began a three-game homestand on Monday, are 3-1-0 as the host club this season.

Meanwhile, the Lightning will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this year when they take the ice tonight.

Tampa Bay has won two of its last three contests since beginning the campaign on a five-game losing streak and is coming off Tuesday's close win in Toronto. Vinny Lecavalier scored twice and Mike Smith was stellar with 37 saves, as the Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs, 3-2, at Air Canada Centre.

Jussi Jokinen also scored for Tampa Bay, while Vinny Prospal posted two assists in the victory.

Lecavalier is leading the Lightning with five goals on the season and is tied with Prospal for first on the team with six points.

Tampa Bay is 1-1-0 as the visiting team this year and is playing the second test on a brief two-game road trip tonight. However, after returning home for one game -- Saturday's tilt against Ottawa -- the Lightning will head back out for a four-game road trip.

Buffalo has dominated the Lightning in recent years, winning five straight, 11 of 12 and 12 of the last 14 meetings between the clubs. Tampa Bay has also dropped back-to-back games and six of its previous seven games at HSBC Arena.

10/30 10:45:55 ET


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