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Lightning, without Palat, aim for sweep of Sabres

by Corey Long / NHL.com

SABRES (6-8-0) at LIGHTNING (7-7-2)

TV: NBCSN

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning return to Amalie Arena on Tuesday and will try to complete a four-game season sweep against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Lightning have struggled in the early part of the season but have a 3-0-0 record against the Sabres.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper says the record against Buffalo isn't indicative of how competitive the games have been.

"We're sitting here 3-0 against Buffalo and probably don't deserve to be," Cooper said. "We can't say we've beaten these guys three times, we can throw our sticks in the middle of the ice. It isn't going to be easy. A few of these periods they have dominated us more than any other team has this year."

Defenseman Anton Stralman said the Lightning need to use this homestand to get back on track and are lucky to be sitting at .500 right now.

"I don't think we've played well for 60 minutes in any game so far," Stralman said. "Honestly, I don't know if we deserve to be where we are. I think we deserve worse."

Tampa Bay will have to right the ship without the services of forward Ondrej Palat, who will miss the next 3-5 weeks with an ankle injury.

Buffalo has won three of its past four games and would like to carry that momentum into Tuesday to avoid another loss to their Atlantic Division opponent.

"We're pretty familiar with these guys at this stage so I think we know what to expect from them," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "Hopefully we can use the win Saturday against Vancouver as a positive step going into [Tuesday]."

The Sabres will go with Chad Johnson in goal. Johnson played the final two periods against Tampa Bay on Nov. 5 after the Lightning scored three times on 11 shots against Linus Ullmark in the first period.

"For a big portion of the first 10 games [Chad] gave us a chance to win," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Linus has started the last few games and [Chad] hasn't had that chance. I'm looking forward to him getting back in."

Tampa Bay will start Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal. Vasilevskiy is 3-0-0 against Buffalo with an 0.67 goals against average and .971 save percentage in his NHL career.

Here are the projected lineups:

SABRES

Matt Moulson - Ryan O'Reilly - Brian Gionta

Tyler Ennis - Jack Eichel - Jamie McGinn

Johan Larsson - Zemgus Girgensons - Sam Reinhart

Nicolas Deslauriers - David Legwand - Marcus Foligno

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Cody Franson

Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk

Chad Johnson

Linus Ullmark

Injured: Mike Weber (lower body), Evander Kane (knee), Robin Lehner (ankle), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: Tim Schaller

LIGHTNING

Jonathan Drouin - Steven Stamkos - Valtteri Filppula

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Vladislav Namestnikov - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Brown - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Ben Bishop

Injured: Ondrej Palat (ankle)

Scratched: Mike Blunden, Nikita Nesterov

Status report: Weber left the morning skate early. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said he will sit and described his injury as a few bumps and bruises. … Stralman and Paquette skated Tuesday morning with Stralman likely to play and Paquette questionable according to Cooper. Blunden was called up from Syracuse of the American Hockey League for precautionary reasons in case Paquette can't play.

Who's hot: Eichel had two assists in a 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. … Kucherov had a goal and an assist in the 4-1 win over Buffalo on Nov. 5.

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