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Lineup will be a game-time announcement as Sabres conclude trip in Tampa

Rodrigues out with lower-body injury; Dea available following recall

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

TAMPA - With multiple options on the table, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger will make his lineup a game-time announce tonight in Tampa. 

Krueger said the Sabres could dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen, as they did against the Panthers last night, or revert to a traditional 12-6 lineup. The team recalled Jean-Sebastien Dea from Rochester this morning as a 12th available forward.

Evan Rodrigues will not play after sustaining a lower-body injury during his first shift of the night against Florida. 

"He's going to be evaluated when we get home tomorrow," Krueger said when asked about Rodrigues' status. "It's a lower-body injury that just needs some attending to. Our first indication is not long-term and day-to-day until we evaluate tomorrow."

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

Dea, 25, leads the Amerks with seven goals and 13 points in 18 games this season. He, like Rodrigues, can play center or on the wing, which Krueger cited as a reason for his recall. 

"I think that Dea, on his NHL experience, is somebody we felt good to pull up at the moment," Krueger said. "We feel that he's been outstanding on faceoffs, a right-hand center with Evan out, and has the option of playing wing too. He's got good foot speed and seems to be in a confident place right now."

Though the Sabres planned to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen Friday, those plans changed quickly as a result of Rodrigues' absence. Brandon Montour played the wing full-time for the remainder of the game, leaving the Sabres to rotate through three steady D pairs. 

The Sabres could revisit that option tonight, not only for the unpredictability it provides in matchups but also as a means to regulate ice time on defense. Their game tonight is the second of five contests in a seven-day span running through Saturday in Toronto. 

Buffalo's starting goalie will be a game-time announcement as well. Linus Ullmark started the first leg of the back-to-back set in Florida and made 43 saves in the victory.


Scouting the Lightning

Tampa Bay will be without captain Steven Stamkos, who's tied for the team lead with seven goals and 20 points. That's not to say they'll be without fire power. 

The Lightning leads the league with an average of 3.70 goals per game. Its power play ranks first at 32.8 percent and has 13 goals in seven games dating back to the two matchups with the Sabres in Stockholm, Sweden as part of the NHL Global Series earlier this month. 

Pat Maroon, Alex Killorn, and Victor Hedman tallied power-play goals in those games against the Sabres. 

"It was their fourth line - supposed fourth line - that actually did the damage in Stockholm in those two games," Krueger said. "So, you have to respect everything they do on the offense and power play's just a finished product where they get to shine. 

"We need outstanding discipline today, No. 1. We took too many penalties through the mid-stretch of the game yesterday. That has to be eliminated. But when they do have the power play, we need to work very, very hard to keep them under pressure, not to give them."

Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in net for Tampa. 


Sabres Metrics

•   Jack Eichel produce this fifth three-point game of the season Sunday, already matching the career high he set during the 2016-17 season. Only Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (eight each) have more three-point games this season.

•   Sam Reinhart has 10 points (8+2) in his last nine games against the Lightning. He scored three goals in the two Global Series meetings earlier this month. 

•   Jeff Skinner scored his ninth goal of the season last night, all of which have come at even strength. Only five players in the league have more even-strength goals this season. 


Tune in 

Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen on WGR 550, with puck drop set for 7. 

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