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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 Lightning.

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 Atlanta.

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 period.

"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 home.

Associated Press
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