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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Buffalo Sabres @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (31-17-7-4) at Buffalo Sabres (27-26-6-1).

TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres look to extend their five-game unbeaten streak and inch closer to an Eastern Conference playoff spot as they host the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sabres tied the Florida Panthers 1-1 on Wednesday, ending their four-game winning streak.

Eric Boulton scored just over four minutes into the game for Buffalo, which is in ninth place in the East, five points behind Montreal and the New York Islanders for the eighth and final postseason spot.

Despite earning the point, the Sabres were somewhat disappointed in their play against the Panthers.

Buffalo failed to score more than once for the first time since a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 24 - a span of nine games. The Sabres had scored 21 goals in their previous three games, their best stretch in over 10 years.

"We didn't have the killer instinct around the net we've had recently," center Daniel Briere said. "Give credit to (Florida goalie Roberto) Luongo. He played well. But it's one of those nights where the puck didn't want to go in for us."

The Sabres went 0-for-7 on the power-play, failing to score on the man advantage for the first time in nine games.

"We could've played another 60 minutes and we weren't going to score again," said coach Lindy Ruff, whose team has gone 8-1-1 over its last 10 games.

The Lightning are coming off Thursday's 4-3 overtime defeat to the St. Louis Blues - just their second loss in 13 games (10-1-1-1). Cory Stillman, who has 21 points in his last 14 games, had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay.

The Lightning, who have earned a point in 19 of their last 21 games, are 27-0-1-3 when scoring three or more goals, which they have done in 13 of their last 15 games.

STANDINGS: Lightning - 73 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Sabres - 61 points, 5th place, 17 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Martin St. Louis, 29 goals, 37 assists and 66 points; Chris Dingman, 124 PIM. Sabres - Miroslav Satan, 22 goals; Briere, 26 assists and 46 points; Andrew Peters, 107 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 18): Lightning - Power play: 16.1 percent (40 for 249), 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (171 for 201), 9th. Sabres - Power play: 15.6 percent (41 for 263), 19th. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (225 for 263), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (16-15-6, 2 SO, 2.37 GAA); John Grahame (15-6-1, 1, 1.76). Sabres - Martin Biron (16-11-4, 0, 2.52); Mika Noronen (11-13-2, 2, 2.16).

SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 6; Lightning, 3-1. At Buffalo, Dave Andreychuk scored the eventual game-winner at 10:30 of the second period, and Khabibulin stopped 37 shots.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 15-10-3-2 on the road; Sabres - 16-10-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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