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Lightning, Sabres fight to stay alive

by Brian Compton

LIGHTNING (17-21-3) at SABRES (17-19-6)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 4-4-2; Buffalo 4-4-2

Season Series: This is the third of three meetings. Each team earned a 2-1 victory over the first two showdowns.

Big Story: It’s a match featuring a pair of teams desperately trying to stay alive in the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning enter Sunday’s action nine points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Buffalo Sabres are six points back.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Tampa Bay rallied from a 5-1 deficit Saturday to force overtime, when it ultimately dropped a 6-5 decision to the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center. Martin St. Louis scored late in the second period and again in the third, and Terry Purcell found the back of the net at 17:25 of the third to tie the game.

“We fought back,” St. Louis said. “We dug ourselves in a hole in the first period. Obviously, we had a tough time getting going. We took a too many men [penalty], a four minute high-sticking [penalty, I think [the Capitals] had eight minutes of power play [time] in the first period. It’s not just them scoring goals, it’s about them feeling good about themselves, their good players are getting a lot of ice time at that point and a lot of touches, and that carries over to 5-on-5. They become tougher to play against, they got a little swagger from it but I thought we answered in the second and the third [period].”

Sabres: Buffalo responded nicely from Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens by shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers in a 1-0 win Sunday at First Niagara Center. Christian Ehrhoff scored the only goal of the game 17 seconds into the third period and Jhonas Enroth stopped all 29 shots he faced to help keep Buffalo’s slip postseason hopes alive.

"Everyone still believes and that's the way you've got to play,” winger Patrick Kaleta said. “There's no give up and there's not a chance in hell that we're going to quit."

Who's hot: With his pair of goals Saturday, St. Louis extended his points streak to four games. He also has four assists over that span. Teddy Purcell also has three goals and two assists over the past three. … Enroth has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his past six appearances for Buffalo.

Injury report: Tampa Bay is expected to be without goaltender Andres Lindback (ankle). … The Sabres are missing defensemen Tyler Myers (leg) and Alexander Sulzer (knee), as well as forward Ville Leino (upper body).

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