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Desperate Lightning set to host Sabres

by Magalie Lafreni?re
SABRES (36-22-10) at LIGHTNING (28-29-12)

Last 10: Buffalo 4-4-2; Tampa Bay 2-7-1.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. The Sabres have won the first two games, 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 24 and 5-3 on Jan. 6. Tyler Myers notched the shootout winner in the first match and scored a regulation goal in the second meeting. Vincent Lecavalier tallied in both games for the Lightning.

Big Story: Buffalo goalie and Team USA starter Ryan Miller was pulled just six minutes into the first period on Tuesday after allowing three quick goals in Atlanta. Being on the road hasn't been kind to Miller as of late; he's posted a 1-4-3 record with a 3.37 goals-against average in his last nine away from Buffalo. The Sabres play nine of their 12 remaining games on the road and have dropped the first two on their current five-game trip.

"It doesn't happen very often to chase Ryan Miller in the first six minutes," said Thrashers center Jim Slater. "But we came out strong."

Sabres: While the Sabres fell behind quickly on Tuesday, they managed to mount a comeback and tie the game by the beginning of the third period. Jason Pominville connected on the power play in the first, Matt Ellis scored his third of the season in the second and Tim Kennedy would score in the third before Slater would once again give Atlanta the lead and the 4-3 win.

"You can't afford to give teams goals right at the start," said Ellis. "It's something we need to address. We came out a little apprehensive. It was kind of a wake-up call for us.

"I don't know what happened. It is what it is. The beauty of it is that we had the opportunity to come back."

Lightning: With a tight Eastern Conference playoff race and the Lightning sitting isix points out of a playoff position, falling to the Coyotes on Tuesday was obviously not the result they wanted. The Coyotes got off to an early 2-0 lead in the first period and would hold on for a 2-1 win.

Todd Fedoruk scored Tampa Bay's lone goal due mostly to the work of Brandon Bochenski, who split three defenders and fed his teammate the puck for the goal.

"It’s tough, but you can’t give up," said defenseman Mike Lundin. "It’s frustrating, but we've got to keep going. We're not playing terrible, we're just not getting results. We've got to find a way here to get hot."

Who's Hot: Pominville is riding a four-game point streak with six points, while Tim Connolly has three points in his last two games. ... Fedoruk has points in last three games, while Lecavalier has had five goals and an assist in his last seven. Steven Stamkos hasn't had points in his last three games, yet he has 17 goals and 16 assists in his last 21 contests.

Injury Report: Sabres right wing Drew Stafford is out with a groin injury. ... Bolts left wing Ryan Malone has an upper-body injury and had left arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday. He is expected to be out for 10-14 days. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund (sprained left ankle) and center Zenon Konopka (back spasms) are both out, while defenseman David Hale is on the injured reserve with a broken right leg.

Stat Pack: Buffalo has won 15 of 18 games against the Lightning with Miller in net. He's posted a 2.75 GAA in those contests.

Puck Drop: "We've scored two goals in the last two games and when you're not scoring goals and looking at our stats, you better go in front of the net. I'm not questioning guys' courage. You have to have courage to go in front of the net and you have to have courage to go back in your own end and take a hit to make a play in the corner. That's courage." -- Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet

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