BY: DAVID KOLB
BUFFALO SABRES (16-15-9) @ TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (19-19-4)
SECOND OF FOUR
Tonight, the Sabres travel to Tampa where they face the Lightning in the second of four games the clubs will play this season. Previously, the Bolts had defeated the Sabres 4-1 in their initial contest. They will then meet for two more meetings, slated for Mar. 4 and Apr. 9. As of late, Buffalo has strung together two straight wins and have grabbed a seven out of a possible eight points in their past four games. Meanwhile, the Lightning are struggling, allowing 22 goals over their past four games.
Ryan O’Reilly missed the first game against the Bolts. However, he brings a hot-hand into tonight’s contest. The 25-year-old center registered two assists Tuesday, giving him two points in each of his last three games since returning from his appendectomy. In 30 games played this season, O’Reilly has tallied eight goals with 16 assists for 24 points.
ELITE BOLT’S BLUELINER
Buffalo will see plenty of Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman tonight, as he has averaged 24:38 of ice-time this season. The 6’6” Swedish backliner is turning in another sensational campaign, as he enters tonight’s match with six points in his past five. On the season, Hedman has recorded seven goals with 30 assists for 37 points in 42 contests.
SAM I AM
Sam Reinhart was excellent Tuesday against the Flyers in picking up a goal with two assists. He now has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his last 10 games, and six points (one goal, five assists) in his past five. Reinhart takes the ice tonight with nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points on the season, and is now looking to eclipse last season’s career-high of 42 points.
Sabres forward Evander Kane scored Tuesday in their win over the Flyers, giving him 10 goals and 15 points in 29 games this season. The 25-year-old has now scored at least 10 goals in each of his eight NHL seasons. He now leads the Sabres this season in even-strength goals with nine. In the first matchup against the Lightning earlier this season, Kane tallied an assist on the lone Sabres goal.