The Buffalo Sabres' season-high five-game road trip got off to the worst possible start. They hope a meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning will make their time away from home a little more enjoyable.
The Sabres look for their sixth straight win against the Lightning when the teams meet for the second time this season on Tuesday.
Buffalo (20-4-2) opened the season with an NHL-record 10-game road winning streak, but has since lost two of its last three there, including a 7-4 defeat to Washington on Saturday. The Sabres trailed 3-0 less than eight minutes into the game and never recovered, allowing their most goals this season.
Buffalo also had a season-high 75 penalty minutes, more than double its previous high. Most of them came in the second period when Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin shoulder-checked Daniel Briere from behind into the boards, resulting in his ejection and numerous other skirmishes.
"(Briere) was defenseless. He went headfirst into the boards," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think if (Washington) looked at it through their eyes and it was Ovechkin going headfirst into the wall, I think they'd feel the same way. We don't need those plays in the game."
Ryan Miller didn't see many plays Saturday, getting pulled in favor of Martin Biron after allowing three goals in the first 7:45. Miller has been perfect against the Lightning (13-12-2), however, going 5-0-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average.
Buffalo's Chris Drury had a goal and an assist Saturday to extend his scoring streak to three games, and has a goal in five of his last six contests. Thomas Vanek also had a goal and an assist against Washington.
Both forwards have experienced similar success against Tampa Bay.
Drury has a point in four straight meetings with the Lightning and Vanek has three goals in the last two matchups. Vanek scored twice in Buffalo's seven-goal second period in a 7-2 win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 20.
The Sabres have outscored Tampa Bay 26-12 during the five-game win streak in the series.
The Lightning are trying to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss as they open a three-game homestand. Tampa Bay gave up four first-period goals Saturday en route to a 5-2 loss to Ottawa.
The Lightning had a brief second-period rally when Eric Perrin and Vincent Lecavalier scored, but couldn't get any closer despite outshooting the Senators 29-14 over the final two periods. Tampa Bay failed to convert on five power-play opportunities and is 0-for-18 with the man advantage over the last three games.
"It's hard to come back down 4-0 in the first," said Lecavalier, who has scored in three consecutive games. "In the second and third we played a lot better and we got back in the game after we scored the second goal."
Johan Holmqvist was replaced by Karri Ramo, who made his NHL debut, after allowing three goals on seven shots. Holmqvist has lost back-to-back decisions after going 8-1-0 in his previous nine starts. He has never faced the Sabres.
Marc Denis is 1-2-0 with a 4.70 GAA during his career against Buffalo and has struggled recently, going 0-4-2 with a 4.38 GAA in his last eight appearances.
Tampa Bay leading scorer Martin St. Louis has four goals in his last three games against the Sabres, and at least one point in 11 of his last 13 contests against them.