GAME DAY: Sabres at Lightning 2/8/11

Sabres (24-22-5) at Lightning (33-16-5) 7:30 pm VERSUS

The Lightning look to build off their 4-3 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday in front of a national audience as they take on the Buffalo Sabres.  This will be the third of four meetings between the teams this year, with Tampa Bay holding 2-1 and 3-1 victories in both showdowns.

Both teams should be sporting stud goaltenders in Dwayne Roloson for the Lightning and Ryan Miller for the Sabres.  In the scoring department, Teddy Purcell has been a pleasant surprise for the Lightning as of late.  If he is able to continue his contributions, the Bolts may have found some sources of secondary scoring they need on a consistent basis.

Ryan Malone is expected back for Tampa Bay, while Mike Lundin is likely out.  Derek Roy and Patrick Kaleta are out for the Sabres.

Despite their difference in standing (Buffalo is in tenth while the Lightning hold steady in second), they are fairly evenly matched in most statistical categories.  It will likely be a tight, low-scoring goalie duel as the Sabres fight for their playoff lives.

Which brings me to my next point: the Lightning will yet again be facing a desperate team.  That is the price of being a higher seed.  The teams you are playing against are going to have more to play for.  Like St. Louis, Buffalo is fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.  They are five points behind Carolina for eighth in the conference with two games in hand.  It is starting to get into desperation territory for them.

The Lightning were able to bounce back nicely from the 5-2 loss to the Capitals, which is crucial at this point in the season.  It can be hard to stay focused at this point when you are in the position the Lightning are, and the fact that they didn’t let it turn into a slide, even with the pressure the Blues were giving, is a very good sign.  They will need to harness that fire and keep it simple against one of the best goaltenders in the world.

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Tampa Bay Lightning

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