GAME: Buffalo Sabres (32-31-6-4) at Tampa Bay Lightning (41-19-8-5).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Buffalo Sabres refuse to fade away.
Fresh off a rousing overtime win, the Sabres will try to move closer to the
final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference when they meet the Tampa Bay
The Sabres, who have recorded at least one point in seven of their last
eight games (4-1-0-3), are coming off one of their best wins of the season.
Derek Roy scored 15 seconds into overtime Wednesday as the Sabres completed
their comeback from a two-goal third-period deficit with a 4-3 victory in
The victory moved Buffalo within four points of the eighth-place New York
Islanders with each team having nine games left. The Islanders lost 6-4 in
Florida on Wednesday.
Roy's winning goal from the top of the circle caught the goalie in the
chest, fell at his skates and slid into the net.
From Roy's perspective, that merely evened things out.
"The last game against Toronto, we had three fluke goals scored on us - off
skates, off sticks, off the goalie's pads," he said. "We just got some good
luck today because we worked really hard all game. I think we deserved it."
The Sabres did get some bad news after the game, learning that left wing
Taylor Pyatt separated his collarbone and is expected to be out three weeks.
The East-leading Lightning have dropped two straight following an 18-game
point streak. Despite grabbing an early lead Tuesday, the Lightning suffered a
3-1 home loss to the Islanders.
"This is probably good it happened," Lightning coach John Tortorella said.
"Maybe it will make you guys understand we're just not that Stanley Cup
contender that everybody thinks we are right now. For us to win games, we need
to do those little things."
Tortorella was referring in part to goaltending. After the game, he had some
choice words about Nikolai Khabibulin, who allowed what his coach thought was a
soft goal to the Islanders' Mattias Weinhandl, sparking a three-goal third
"If Nik Khabibulin can't make that save at that point in time where that
shot was taken, we're in trouble," Tortorella said. "If we can't get a save
like that come playoff time, then we're in trouble."
Despite the mini-slide, Tampa Bay is 18-3-2-2 since acquiring defenseman
Darryl Sydor from Columbus on Jan. 27.
STANDINGS: Sabres - 74 points, 5th place, 19 PB, Northeast Division.
Lightning - 95 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Miroslav Satan, 28 goals; Daniel Briere, 33 assists
and 58 points; Andrew Peters, 129 PIM. Lightning - Martin St. Louis, 34 goals,
51 assists and 85 points; Chris Dingman, 136 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 16): Sabres - Power play: 16.6 percent (53 for
320), 12th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (259 for 306), 9th.
Lightning - Power play: 16.8 percent (51 for 304), 10th. Penalty killing: 84.4
percent (211 for 250), 12th.
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Martin Biron (21-17-4, 1 SO, 2.73 GAA); Mika Noronen
(11-15-2, 2, 2.47). Lightning - Khabibulin (25-16-7, 3, 2.31); John Grahame
(16-8-1, 1, 1.99).
SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 20; Sabres, 4-3, OT. At Buffalo, Briere had two assists
and scored the winning goal 1:59 into the extra period for the Sabres. Dave
Andreychuk had two-power play goals for the Lightning.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 14-19-2-1 on the road; Lightning - 20-9-4-2 at