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Lightning vs. Sabres: Projected lines, injuries, storylines

The Bolts go for their fifth straight win on Wednesday vs. the Sabres

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Lightning host the Sabres on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

This will be the first action the Sabres have seen since their impressive win over Boston on Saturday. Tampa Bay comes in riding a four-game winning streak after Monday's 4-3 shootout victory over the Maple Leafs. 

Lines from Wednesday's morning skate. Subject to change.

Forwards
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos

Adam Erne - Yanni Gourde - Cory Conacher

Chris Kunitz - Tyler Johnson - J.T. Miller

Michael Bournival - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Tweet from @BBurnsNHL: Nikita Kucherov makes a late appearance at #Bolts morning skate in a regular jersey. #BUFvsTBL

Defensemen
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Mikhail Sergachev - Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Slater Koekkoek - Jake Dotchin

Tweet from @BBurnsNHL: Ryan McDonagh is also here and participating in the #Bolts��� morning skate. #BUFvsTBL

Goaltenders
Andrei Vasilevskiy expected to start

Wednesday's Matchup
The Lightning and the Sabres are playing their third of four meetings this season and the first of two at AMALIE Arena...The teams split a pair of matchups at KeyBank Center earlier this season...Tampa Bay blanked Buffalo 2-0 Nov. 28, Andrei Vasilevskiy making all 34 stops to record his second shutout of the season and Dan Girardi scoring his first goal as a member of the Bolts in the win...The Sabres earned a 5-3 win over the Lightning 15 days ago on Feb. 13 to end the Bolts' six-game win streak in Buffalo...Tampa Bay is 15-3-1 in its last 19 games against the Sabres...Andrei Vasilevskiy has won three-straight starts vs. BUF and is 6-1-0 with two shutouts in seven career starts against the Sabres...Tyler Johnson has more career assists (12) vs. BUF than any other NHL team...Nikita Kucherov has recorded points in eight-straight games vs. BUF (3-6--9).

Wednesday's Storylines
Tampa Bay remains in the top spot in the NHL standings following its win Monday over Toronto and has only relinquished first place for six days since Nov. 28, never falling more than one point from the top spot...The Lightning are aiming to become just the second team in the last 81 years to finish with the League's best record after missing the playoffs the previous season, joining the 1993-94 New York Rangers, who went on to win the Stanley Cup...The Bolts pace the NHL for wins (43), points (89), points percentage (.706), ROW (39), goals (223), goals per game (3.54) and goal differential (+57) and remain in first place in the Atlantic Division by five points over Toronto with two games in hand and seven points over Boston (the Bruins have 3 games in hand)...The Lightning have led the Atlantic Division continuously since Oct. 19...Tampa Bay has its best record in franchise history through 63 games with 89 points, seven points better than the 82 points put up by the 2010-11 team (38-19-6) through 63 games...The Lightning are playing the first half of a back-to-back set tonight, their 10th of 13 back-to-back sets this season...The Bolts are 6-3-0 in the first half of a back-to-back set.

Injuries 
2017-18 Regular Season Man Games Lost: 98
Current injuries
Peter Budaj - Lower body (out indefinitely; injured Dec. 29) 26 games
Ondrej Palat - Lower body (out 6 to 8 weeks; injured Jan. 20) 17 games

Transactions
Feb. 26 -- Acquired D Ryan McDonagh and F J.T. Miller from the New York Rangers in exchange for F Vladislav Namestnikov, F Brett Howden, D Libor Hajek, a 2018 first-round draft pick and a conditional 2019 second-round draft pick
Feb. 21 -- Claimed F Gabriel Dumont off waivers from Ottawa; assigned Dumont to AHL Syracuse
Feb. 21 -- Re-assigned F Matthew Peca to AHL Syracuse

Andrei the Giant
Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27-of-30 shots Feb. 26 vs. TOR to win his third-straight game and pick up his NHLleading 37th victory of the season.

With his shootout win Monday, Vasilevskiy (78 career wins in 142 GP) passed Daren Puppa (77 career wins in 206 GP) and moved into third place among the Lightning's all-time goalie wins leaders...Vasilevskiy's 37 wins are tied for the second most in a season in Lightning history.

Vasilevskiy paces the NHL for shutouts (7) and tied the Lightning franchise record for shutouts in a season set previously by Nikolai Khabibulin in 2001-02.

Squashing Rookie Records
Lightning rookie forward Yanni Gourde tallied his 26th assist of the season Feb. 26 vs. TOR, giving him points in four of his last five games (0-5--5) and 11 of his last 13 games (5-10--15)...Gourde's 15 points in February are the most he's recorded in a single month for his career (previous best: 5-5--10 in Dec. 2017)...Gourde recorded his 48th point of the season Monday, the fourth-most points in a single season by a Lightning rookie.

Gourde's 22 goals are the fourth most in a season by a Lightning rookie and just two goals from tying the franchise record for goals by a rookie held by Tyler Johnson (24 in 2013-14)...Gourde ranks tied for second in the NHL for goals among rookies and third for rookie scoring.

Stammer Time
Bolts captain Steven Stamkos registered his 47th assist of the season Feb. 26 vs. TOR, giving him assists in three-straight games (0-3--3)...With his assist Monday, Stamkos established a new career high for assists in a single season, passing his previous mark of 46 set in 2010-11.

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