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Lightning-Sabres Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (33-25-4) at Buffalo Sabres (39-16-5).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres try to complete their first-ever season sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning and run their winning streak to four games as the teams play at HSBC Arena.

Buffalo leads the all-time series 25-16, and the teams have recorded five ties, but the Sabres have never completed a four-game sweep since the Lightning entered the league in 1992. They had three wins and a tie in both the 1997-98 and 2001-02 seasons.

Jochen Hecht helped the Sabres keep pace in the Northeast Division, scoring the go-ahead goal in a 3-2 victory Tuesday over the Boston Bruins. Ryan Miller turned aside 25 shots for Buffalo, which trails Ottawa by four points in the Northeast Division.

"We're playing really well together," said Hecht, who has two goals and three assists in a three-game points streak. "We have good chemistry out there and it shows."

Tampa Bay snapped a three-game overall losing streak Tuesday with a 5-4 shootout win at Pittsburgh. The Lightning squandered a three-goal third-period lead but were bailed out in the shootout by Brad Richards and Vinny Prospal.

"Our confidence is fragile after we got outplayed in three games at home," Prospal admitted. "So maybe it was good to get on the road."

The Lightning, who opened a five-game road trip with the victory, have won seven of their last nine road games, and they also have won their last four games that have been decided by shootout.

Tampa will again be without forward Evgeny Artyukhin, who will serve the second game of his two-game suspension for hitting Ottawa Senators forward Antoine Vermette with Vermette's helmet in the second period of Monday's loss.

The Lightning have yielded 37 goals in their last seven games.

STANDINGS: Lightning - 70 points, 2nd place, 21 PB, Southeast Division. Sabres - 83 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier and Fredrik Modin, 26 goals; Richards, 45 assists and 63 points; Pavel Kubina, 80 PIM. Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 21 goals; Maxim Afinogenov and Teppo Numminen, 31 assists; Kotalik and Afinogenov, 46 points; Andrew Peters, 63 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Lightning - Power play: 15.0 percent (55 for 367), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (249 for 301), 14th. Sabres - Power play: 21.0 percent (76 for 362), 2nd. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (273 for 316), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - John Grahame (23-17-1, 5 SO, 2.86 GAA); Sean Burke (10-7-3, 1, 2.86). Sabres - Miller (22-8-2, 2, 2.26); Martin Biron (16-6-3, 0, 2.94).

SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 5; Sabres, 3-1. At Buffalo, N.Y., Chris Drury's goal midway through the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Sabres won their third straight against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 17-13-2 on the road; Sabres - 20-8-3 at home.

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