BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 25:Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning watches his deflection go between the legs of Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres for Tampa Bay's third goal at First Niagara Center on October 25, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Last time the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres squared off, the teams played back-to-back, home-and-home games a few days apart - with Tampa Bay sweeping the series in inspiring fashion. The season was young at the time, and while Buffalo had been strong early on - they started to fall back to earth with those losses.
Now? Both teams are mired outside the playoffs, with two points separating the clubs in the conference standings (54 points for Buffalo, 52 for Tampa Bay). Both teams have found success of late, with the Bolts going 6-2-2 and the Sabres going 5-4-1 in their past ten games each.
Can the Bolts take advantage of a team playing their second game in a row? And will they be able to overcome that stigma tomorrow against the Pens? We'll find out soon enough.
Ryan Malone has been practicing with full contact the past few days, he's a game-time decision for the Bolts tonight. If he doesn't go tonight, he'll likely get the start tomorrow in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
Mathieu Garon gets the start tonight in net for the Lightning, and he's tasked with keeping Thomas Vanek off the score sheet. Vanek particularly potent against Tampa Bay, with 23 goals and 7 assists in 26 games against the Lightning. Vanek had been out of action with an upper body injury since January 31st, but he returned last night against the Stars, notching a goal in his return.