NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 29th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (40-24-9) at Buffalo Sabres (20-45-8), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning have found a way to pick up points down the stretch so far and the club will aim for its seventh win in nine tries when it visits the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
In addition to winning six of their last eight games, the Lightning have earned at least a point in 10 consecutive outings (6-0-4).
The point streak has Tampa Bay two points behind Montreal for second place in the Atlantic Division and nine points in front of fourth-place Toronto. The top three teams in each division earn automatic bids to the playoffs.
Tampa had lost two in a row before returning to the win column with Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over the visiting New York Islanders. The shootout battle lasted 13 rounds, but the Lightning finally won the decisive phase on a score from Sami Salo.
Four players from each team had scored in the first 12 rounds, and Salo gave Tampa the advantage when he lifted a backhander past Evgeni Nabokov. Ben Bishop then preserved the win as he stopped Johan Sundstrom's offering.
"They're fun, especially in front of the home fans to get a win like that," said Bishop. "They made a couple good shots, but our guys did a good job of scoring goals tonight."
Ryan Callahan scored both goals while Bishop turned away 25 shots for the Lightning.
Callahan has four goals and four assists in his first 11 games with Tampa. He was acquired at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers.
Tampa has gone past regulation in each of its last three games and the club has seen four straight and five of its past six tests get decided by one goal.
"First and foremost, we got two points and that's what we needed out of this game. They're not all a Picasso, but we have to be better," warned Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper.
The Bolts are 19-16-3 as the away team this season and are playing the first of two straight on the road tonight. After visiting Detroit on Sunday, the Lightning will play six in a row on home ice before closing their regular- season schedule in Washington on April 13.
Buffalo is last in the NHL with 48 points and enters Saturday's game having lost three straight and 10 of its last 11 games. The Sabres have managed only a total of three goals during their current three-game slide and were slammed 6-1 in Thursday's road test in Nashville.
The Sabres, who went 1-4-0 on their recent five-game road trip, trailed 4-0 after the first period of Thursday's game. Colton Sissons beat Sabres goalie Matt Hackett on a rebound to open the scoring at 6:26. Colin Wilson and Calle Jarnkrok scored nine seconds apart before Shea Weber added a goal during a 5-on-3 power play with 43 seconds remaining in the frame.
"Guys came out, and they didn't come out to play that first period," Buffalo head coach Ted Nolan said.
Nathan Lieuwen replaced Hackett, who faced 15 shots, at the start of the second period. Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen scored on a blast from the top of the right circle to register the Sabres' only goal at 2:06 of the second period.
Buffalo is beginning a two-game homestand tonight and will try to halt a three-game slide at First Niagara Center. The Sabres are 12-20-5 as the home club this season.
The Sabres lost the first two meetings with Tampa Bay this season before notching a 3-1 win in Tampa on March 6.
03/29 10:28:17 ET