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Sabres seek to salvage split with Lightning

by Eric Goodman /
LIGHTNING (3-3-2) at SABRES (5-2-0)


Season series:
The Lightning took the first of four meetings this season with a 3-0 win at home this past Saturday. Goalie Mathieu Garon earned his first shutout as a member of the Lightning with 21 saves against Buffalo.

Big Story:
In the back end of a home-and-home series, the Bolts look to extend their winning streak to three games, while Buffalo hopes to catch another spark after Saturday's loss ended a string of three straight victories. The Sabres will also seek to rediscover their recent winning formula against the Bolts, having gone 15-5-0 combined over the past five seasons.

Team Scope:

Tampa Bay appears to be back on track, having won two in a row following a season-high five-game losing streak. While Garon has been great in wins over Buffalo and the New York Islanders, part of the reason for the recent turnaround is a return to an overall disciplined style of play. After killing off the first 22 penalties over its first four games of the season, Tampa went on to surrender seven power-play goals in two consecutive losses to the Panthers last week. In the wins over the Sabres and Islanders, the Lightning killed off all four penalties.

Garon looked sharp in Saturday's shutout of Buffalo, but the veteran goalie was aware that his supporting cast chipped in considerably. The Bolts had 22 blocked shots, while Garon made 21 total saves.

"The defense in front of me was outstanding all game," Garon said. "I think they made more blocks than I did."

Sabres: Tuesday's meeting with Tampa Bay marks the first of five straight home games for Buffalo. Perennial All-Star goalie Ryan Miller will try to get back on the winning side of things following Saturday's road loss. The U.S.-born netminder was victorious in four of his last five starts entering Saturday's game.

While the box score showed a relatively close game with a 3-0 final and Tampa leading in shots by a slim 26-21 margin, the game action told a different story with the Lightning showing more hustle and grit.

"We didn't win the battles, and that's why we lost the game," forward Ville Leino said.

Who's Hot:
Garon has been a big part of the Bolts' improved play, winning two straight starts and allowing a single goal over that span. … Sabres forward Tomas Vanek had a then season-long six-game points streak ended at Tampa on Saturday. The Austrian All-Star has been great against the Lightning in his career, amassing 22 goals over 25 games played.

Injury Report:
For Tampa Bay, defenseman Mattias Ohlund is out indefinitely following surgery to both knees last week. … Jochen Hecht remains sidelined for Buffalo with a concussion, while Tyler Ennis suffered an ankle injury Saturday and is out indefinitely.
Stat Pack:
The Lightning lead the NHL with 136 blocked shots this season. Also, Sabres right wing Brad Boyes is set to play in his 500th consecutive game.

Puck Drop: Lightning coach Guy Boucher had not yet confirmed if he was going to return to Garon on Tuesday or give veteran Dwayne Roloson (1-2-1 with a 5.09 goals-against average this season) another shot. While Garon has certainly showed the hot hand of late, the experienced goalie isn't getting too far ahead of himself.

"I don't play for shutouts," Garon told the Lightning's official website following Saturday's victory. "A win is a win, though, and we got it tonight."

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