SABRES (28-24-7) at LIGHTNING (46-11-4)
7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, MSG-B, NHL.TV
The Tampa Bay Lightning will try for their eighth straight victory and match their longest winning streak this season when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Amalie Arena on Thursday.
The Lightning, which won eight consecutive games from Nov. 29-Dec. 3, have outscored opponents 35-12 during their seven-game winning streak. They have the best record in the NHL and have a 16-point lead on the Boston Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who leads the NHL in scoring with 99 points (29 goals, 70 assists), can become the first player in Tampa Bay history to score 100 points in multiple seasons; he had 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 80 games last season.
Defenseman Victor Hedman will be a game-time decision because of a lower-body injury that caused him to miss a 5-2 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
The Sabres, looking to avoid their fourth straight loss, have been outscored 14-5 in three consecutive defeats and are 3-6-1 in their past 10 games. Buffalo is six points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Players to watch
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is 6-0-2 with a 1.34 goals-against average, .957 save percentage and three shutouts in his past eight starts.
Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his past seven games and is one goal shy of matching his NHL career high of 37 in 2016-17.
They said it
"We've beaten [the Lightning] early this year (a 2-1 win on Nov. 13) and it was a close, tight game so we can certainly build off that. Pretty much all the games that we've played against them have been pretty tight games." -- Sabres coach Phil Housley
"It's been a good stretch for us. I think we've done a good job of limiting scoring chances. Our goaltending has been exceptional, which has helped. We've really cracked down on trying to play the right way." -- Lightning center Steven Stamkos
Sabres projected lineup
Jeff Skinner -- Jack Eichel -- Evan Rodrigues
Conor Sheary -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Sam Reinhart
Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Jason Pominville
C.J. Smith -- Vladimir Sobotka -- Tage Thompson
Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin -- Zach Bogosian
Nathan Beaulieu -- Casey Nelson
Scratched: Lawrence Pilut
Injured: Marco Scandella (upper body), Kyle Okposo (concussion), Matt Hunwick (lower body)
Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat -- Steven Stamkos -- J.T. Miller
Tyler Johnson -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Yanni Gourde
Adam Erne -- Cedric Paquette -- Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman -- Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn -- Mikhail Sergachev
Scratched: Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Danick Martel
Nelson, who has not played since Dec. 4 because of an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision. … Hedman was a full participant at the morning skate and wore a regular jersey.
Eichel has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past nine games. … Stamkos has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in a seven-game point streak