Coming off a week that saw head coach Lindy Ruff fired, followed by a loss to the New York Islanders, Buffalo hopes to right their ship while beginning their own win streak. With Ryan Miller scheduled to start in net, not to mention players like Thomas Vanek (who’s killed the Lightning for years) and Jason Pominville, it’s certainly possible.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is tied with Carolina for first place in the tightly contested Southeast Division. Another thing going for the Lightning is that this game’s being played in Tampa, where they haven’t lost many times so far this season.
Keep an eye on former Boston Bruin Benoit Pouliot, who’s slowly adjusting to his role as a top six forward for the Lightning and has lots of experience against the Sabres. Other players to watch include the ever dangerous Steven Stamkos and crafty veteran Martin St. Louis, along with one of the league’s top rookies, Cory Conacher.
Mathieu Garon should start in goal and the Lightning will need him to be nearly unflappable so they can emerge with a much needed victory. Given last season’s stats (four goals allowed in three contests, all wins), that shouldn’t be very tough. Then again, consistency in net has almost always been an issue for Tampa Bay, so there’s something to keep an eye on.
Injury-wise, the Lightning will again be minus forward Ryan Malone, though his presence on the ice with teammates this morning was a welcome sight.
This game’s sold out, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern, and will be broadcast on Sun Sports in north/central Florida along with MSG-Buffalo.