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game preview

Preview: Lightning at Sabres

Steven Stamkos out for Tampa Bay; Buffalo missing Ryan O'Reilly, Dmitry Kulikov

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

LIGHTNING (10-6-1) at SABRES (5-7-4)

7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, SUN, NHL.TV


Lightning team scope

The Tampa Bay Lightning will play their first game without captain Steven Stamkos after he tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. However, forward Jonathan Drouin will return after missing the past seven games with an upper-body injury. "The one big plus for us, timing-wise, is Drouin's coming back," coach Jon Cooper said. "So as much pain as we're feeling, that eases it a little bit. It's going to be good to have him, but he's going to be somebody that's going to take some more responsibility." With Stamkos out, players like Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson will be asked to do more offensively. Kucherov shares the NHL scoring lead with 21 points. "He and Stamkos had some good chemistry going, but it was nice to see as the game went on and [Kucherov] does what [Kucherov] did to finish off the Detroit game," Cooper said. "But you can see he's taken a step in all aspects of his game. Now we need him to keep that going."


Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres will again be without center Ryan O'Reilly and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who are out with mid-body injuries. O'Reilly will miss his second game, Kulikov his third. The Sabres sent defenseman Casey Nelson to Rochester of the American Hockey League on Wednesday and recalled defenseman Taylor Fedun on Thursday. Fedun, who signed with Buffalo on July 1, will make his Sabres debut against the Lightning. "He got his game underneath him [in Rochester of the American Hockey League]," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Last three weeks he's been very good for us, a smart defender, compete level high, a puck mover." Fedun will be paired with Justin Falk, his defense partner in Rochester. "[Falk] really calms things down back there," Fedun said. "He's been solid and nice to play with. It allows me to try to do to a little bit more offensively knowing that he's a rock back there."


Lightning projected lineup

Alex Killorn -- Tyler Johnson -- Brayden Point

Ondrej Palat -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Nikita Kucherov

Jonathan Drouin -- Valtteri Filppula -- Ryan Callahan

Cedric Paquette -- Brian Boyle -- J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman -- Andrej Sustr

Jason Garrison -- Nikita Nesterov

Slater Koekkoek -- Braydon Coburn

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Luke Witkowski

Injured: Steven Stamkos (right knee), Anton Stralman (upper body)


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Sam Reinhart -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Johan Larsson -- Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Evan Rodrigues

William Carrier -- Derek Grant -- Nicholas Baptiste

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: None

Injured: Ryan O'Reilly (mid-body), Dmitry Kulikov (mid-body), Tyler Ennis (groin), Zach Bogosian (sprained MCL), Nicolas Deslauriers (knee), Jack Eichel (left high ankle sprain), Cody McCormick (blood clots)


Status report

Bishop will make his second straight start. … Lehner will start his third straight game.


Who's hot

Kucherov has three goals and two assists in the past two games. Coburn and Hedman have assists in back-to-back games. Namestnikov has a goal and two assists in the past two games. … Moulson has two goals and an assist during a three-game point streak.

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