Coming off a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers last night, the Buffalo Sabres will close out their three-game road trip tonight.
The Sabres take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena at 7 p.m. on MSG and WGR 550. Join us for the Buick Game Night pregame show at 6:30 on MSG.
Here's what you need to know.
From @SabresPR's Game Notes…
- With a win tonight, the Sabres would sweep a Florida road trip for the first time since earning wins against Tampa Bay and Florida on Nov. 10 and 12, 2015. It would be their first time doing so on consecutive nights since Jan. 29 and 30, 2008.
- This is the third of four meetings between the Sabres and Lightning this season.
- Last meeting: Tampa Bay defeated Buffalo 5-3 in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov. 9.
- Next meeting: Tuesday, Dec. 31 in Buffalo
- The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Lightning; 2-7-1 on the road.
- Victor Olofsson's goal and point totals currently have him on pace for the best offensive season by a Sabres rookie in decades.
- If he maintains his current pace, he would finish the season with the most goals by a Sabres rookie (29) since Donald Audette's 31 in 1991-92 and the most points by a Sabres rookie (61) since Ray Sheppard's 65 in 1987-88.
- With 14 goals in 23 games so far this season, Jack Eichel is already halfway to his previous best goal total (28), set in the 2018-19 season.
- Eichel's output through 23 games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 50 goals and 103 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
- Sam Reinhart has recorded 10 points (8+2) in his last nine games against the Lightning, including four two-point outings.
Looking back at last night
Video: Girgensons, Eichel lead Sabres past Panthers, 5-2
From the Lexus Postgame Report…
In the aftermath of a loss in Boston on Thursday, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger focused on the need to move forward. The result was painful, he said, but the effort and structure with which they played would bring them victories more often than not.
The Sabres stayed positive through a spirited practice on Saturday, then followed through with another strong outing on Sunday. This time it brought them the result they wanted, a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.
Jack Eichel contributed a goal and two assists for his fifth three-point outing of the season, already matching his career high. Zemgus Girgensons added a pair of goals, while Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson also found the back of the net.
Linus Ullmark made 43 saves.
"I had mentioned after the Boston game and this difficult stretch as of late that the spirit has been outstanding in the room," Krueger said. "I thought we had a real strong training day of practice yesterday.
"We had multiple meetings since the Boston game and I've never felt anybody lose spirit, lose confidence in what we're doing here, and that's one of the reasons the group was able to step up today and let us take that momentum forward into Tampa tomorrow night. Let's build on this win, for sure."
Video: Zemgus Girgensons Postgame Show Interview
Video: POSTGAME: Eichel
With Zach Bogosian making his season debut and another game awaiting them in Tampa on Monday, the Sabres chose to dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards. The plan going into the game was for Brandon Montour to fill in on the wing when necessary.
That plan changed when the team lost Evan Rodrigues to an injury on his first shift of the night. Montour moved to the wing full-time for the remainder of the game. In 10:16 with him on the ice at 5-on-5, shot attempts were 10-7 in favor of Buffalo.
Montour kept the game simple, looking to get involved in the cycle and create havoc near the net. The Sabres monitored their shift lengths and ended the night with relatively balanced ice times up front - a point of emphasis from Krueger prior to the game. Aside from Eichel and Sam Reinhart, both of whom exceeded 20 minutes, all of Buffalo's forwards played between 12 and 18 minutes.
Video: POSTGAME: Krueger
Video: POSTGAME: Montour
Another point Krueger had emphasized was the element of surprise playing with 11 forwards could offer. All five Buffalo goals included a different combination of forwards on the ice.
"It's an interesting style to play on the road," Krueger said. "It's very unpredictable, although within our team it's predictable because everybody was maintaining the structure of the team and maintaining the principles of the team. I think for the opposition, it's difficult."
Read the full recap here.
Stay tuned to Sabres.com throughout the day for news and notes on tonight's game.
Sabres swap defensemen with Lightning
Last night, the Sabres acquired defenseman Matthew Spencer from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Devante Stephens. Spencer has been assigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL).
Spencer, 22, has registered seven points (1+6) in 53 career American Hockey League games with the Syracuse Crunch, including one assist in two appearances this season. A native of Guelph, Ontario, Spencer has also skated in 53 career ECHL contests with Adirondack and Orlando, adding 18 points on four goals and 14 assists.
Prior to turning pro, the 6-foot-2, 206-pound blueliner played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League for the Peterborough Petes, where he amassed 98 points (19+79) in 251 games.
Spencer was a second-round pick (44th overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 NHL Draft.