Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Beasts of the East meet in the sunshine state
The Lightning look to cool the red-hot Sabres and retake first place in the East.
Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 26
Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, MSG-B
Opponent SBNation Site: Die By The Blade
It’s only just over a quarter of the way into the season, but the Buffalo Sabres are first in the entire National Hockey League. They’re coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks are the hottest team in the league right now. Buffalo’s surge up the East standings is in large part due to the brilliance of Jeff Skinner, who has seemingly revived his career after a tumultuous tenure in Carolina. Skinner is in a three-way tie for the league lead in goals (19) and has 27 points in 25 games this season. No other Sabre has hit 10 goals (Jason Pominville is second with nine).
But the Sabres are far from a one-man wrecking machine. Their success has been a team effort; from Jack Eichel matching Skinner’s point totals to secondary scoring from Pominville, Sam Reinhart, and Kyle Okposo, and solid defending from Rasmus Dahlin, Jake McCabe, and Rasmus Ristolainen. Former NHL backup Carter Hutton has made a strong transition to becoming the Sabres starting goalie with 12 wins (third in the NHL). The Sabres victory against the Sharks tied a franchise record of 10 straight wins, and they look to extend it with a win against the Lightning tonight.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, meanwhile, have been fighting to stay atop the Atlantic, fending off pushes for the top spot from the Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They sit tied for second in the NHL (with Nashville, of course), but they dropped their last game 3-1 to the middling, defensively struggling Anaheim Ducks. However, they had won three straight prior to Tuesday. Brayden Point continues to write his way into the Hart Trophy conversation (or at least nearly every article on the Lightning in the last week), and despite injuries to key players at every position, Tampa Bay continues to roll.
The team announced Wednesday that Anton Stralman will continue to be treated for his injury and won’t return for at least another week. Andrei Vasilevskiy remains out for the forseeable future, but Tampa could get Ondrej Palat back into the lineup very soon. The Sabres haven’t escaped the injury bug either, but they’ve been fortunate to have their best players remain healthy during their hot streak. Both Marco Scandella and Conor Sheary missed Tuesday’s game for the Sabres, and haven’t been ruled out for a return against the Lightning tonight.
It will be Connor Ingram backing up Louis Domingue tonight, as the Bolts returned Eddie Pasquale to Syracuse to get him more playing time. It’s not the first time the Lightning have brought up Ingram to get their backup into more games — he was called up twice in January last season to give Domingue some starts with the Crunch. Ingram was just named the AHL’s player of the week and won his last six starts (including two shutouts), but Domingue will remain Tampa’s starter until Vasilevskiy is healthy enough to return.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Mathieu Joseph
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Ondrej Palat - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Adam Erne (ill)
Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Injured: Anton Stralman
Injured: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Tage Thompson - Casey Mittelstadt - Kyle Okposo
Vladimir Sobotka - Evan Rodrigues - Jason Pominville
Remi Elie - Johan Larsson - Zemgus Girgensons
Injured: Patrik Berglund, Conor Sheary
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian
Nathan Beaulieu - Casey Nelson
Injured: Matt Hunwick, Marco Scandella
Adam Erne missed morning skate with an illness, so Ondrej Palat took his place in line rushes and could make his return if Erne is not ready to go tonight.
Coop says Palat is back in the lineup tonight. #BUFvsTBL— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) November 29, 2018
Palat will play tonight, so we have updated the lines accordingly.