By: David Kolb
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (10-6-1) @ BUFFALO SABRES (5-7-4)
WINNING AT HOME
The Sabres begin the night with a 1-3-2 record at KeyBank Center as they open a four-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The four-game stretch will serve as the longest homestand of the year, however, they will be home for another four-game stretch from Dec. 6-16.
The Sabres have struggled to provide scoring support for their goaltending during their current five-game winless streak. They enter tonight’s contest 0-3-2 in their past five games and have only scored five goals.
Buffalo’s recent losses have not come as a surprise, as the list of injured skaters continues to grow. Forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel, Tyler Ennis and Nicolas Deslauriers, and defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Zach Bogosian are all dinged up and have been missed sorely.
The Sabres’ largest task, keeping the Lightning off the board, got a bit easier as Steven Stamkos (nine goals, 11 assists for 20 points) left Tuesday’s game early with a lower-body injury. It was later determined that Stamkos suffered torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely.
PAVING THE WAY TO A WIN
The Lightning special teams units are ranked in the NHL’s top-10, with Tampa’s power play sits at 23.9% (4th) and the penalty kill registers at 84.3% (9th). For Buffalo to have success tonight they must avoid taking penalties, and coach Dan Bylsma has to keep his top forwards away from Victor Hedman in five-on-five situations.