The Tampa Bay Lightning (11-7-2) move on to the second game in a brief 3-game home stand, playing host to the Buffalo Sabres (11-9-3) at Amalie Arena tonight.
These teams last meeting came Nov. 8 and 9 as part of the NHL Global Series in Stockholm, Sweden. The Bolts swept that back-to-back set to begin righting the ship after a less-than-impressive October.
Counting the two victories overseas, the Lightning are 5-2. Buffalo, on the other hand, comes into this match-up with two wins and six points in their last 11 games dating back to a home shootout loss which ended the season’s first month.
Both are coming off of wins, however, with the Lightning pulling away in the final 30 minutes of regulation to defeat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Sabres beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 in a Sunday matinee game (5pm) down in South Florida to snap a losing skid of three games.
Linus Ullmark got the start Sunday evening in Sunrise, making 43 saves to earn the win. Being a back-to-back, you’d have to guess veteran Carter Hutton will be between the pipes when the Sabres take on the Lightning.
He’ll likely go up against Andrei Vasilevskiy, who set a new franchise record with 132 wins to break Ben Bishop’s mark of 131.
On the injury front, the Lightning got right winger Nikita Kucherov back against the Ducks following a one-game absence nursing an upper-body injury.
Unfortunately, captain Steven Stamkos suffered a lower-body injury early in Thursday nights game against the Chicago Blackhawks and sat out the Ducks game as a result. He’s listed as day-to-day so it’s possible he’ll play but there’s no confirmation yet.
For the Sabres, forward Evan Rodrigues left the game in Sunrise early and has been ruled out for the Lightning game.
Special teams could help decide the outcome of this game. After a shaky start to the 2019-2020 season, the Bolts have worked their way up the rankings in both categories.
The Lightning power play currently leads the NHL at 33.3 percent, while a suddenly clicking penalty kill has gone from 27th to 19th in a few weeks time.
Despite having some real talent in top draft picks Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin, plus the addition of Jeff Skinner, the Sabres power play has fallen out of the top 10, clicking at just over 20 percent.
Their PK has also fallen to 26th in the league, killing off less than 75 percent of opposing power plays.
For those interested in watching this game, it begins at 7pm EST and can be seen on Fox Sports Sun, MSG-Buffalo and NHL.TV or you can listen live On SiriusXM app channel 941.