Lightning look to end road woes against Sabres

Steven Stamkos still might not be available to help the Tampa Bay Lightning avoid their first 0-3-0 road start in 14 years.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres are still searching for their first victory anywhere this season.

Stamkos could miss a second consecutive contest as the Lightning again try for their initial road victory Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay opened the season by rallying with four third-period goals to win 5-3 over Nashville at home. Since then, however, the Lightning fell 6-4 at Detroit and yielded the final three goals during Sunday’s 5-2 loss at Ottawa.

“We can’t be giving up four (goals) a night,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s not a recipe to win.”

The Lightning last dropped their first three road games in 2009-10, when they opened 0-4-1 away from home. Whether Stamkos is able to help Tampa Bay avoid another road defeat remains to be seen.

After totaling two goals with two assists in the Lightning’s first two games, Stamkos sat out Sunday’s contest due to a lower-body injury. He is considered day-to-day.

Stamkos has 22 goals with 25 assists in 49 games against Buffalo, which went 2-1-1 versus Tampa Bay last season.

However, the Sabres have been outscored 8-3 in losing their first two games — against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

Following a four-goal defeat at home to those Rangers, Buffalo was much more competitive at the Islanders, where it overcame a 2-0 hole, but still fell 3-2 on Saturday.

“We know it’s early,” said Buffalo forward Casey Mittelstadt, who had a goal and an assist against the Islanders.

“There’s definitely some things we can take away (from the first two games of the season).”

Buffalo last lost three in a row to open the season in 2017-18, when it went 0-4-1 before winning a game.

Perhaps most concerning for this Sabres group is that key offensive performers Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner, Alex Tuch, Dylan Cozens and Victor Olofsson are all without a point.

Thompson, who recorded 85 goals and 77 assists the past two seasons, has seven with five assists in 10 career games versus Tampa Bay.

Devon Levi stopped 52 of 59 shots in starting the first two games for Buffalo. However, either Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen or Eric Comrie could get the start in this contest.

Meanwhile, former Sabres goalie Jonas Johansson allowed eight goals on 72 shots against while starting Tampa Bay’s first two games in place of the injured Andrei Vasilevskiy. Matt Tomkins made 33 saves in his NHL debut for the Lightning on Sunday.

Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman already has five points on the young season, while teammate Nikita Kucherov totaled two goals with two assists.

Kucherov has 10 goals and 13 assists during a 13-game point streak versus Buffalo; Hedman posted a goal with six assists in his past six games versus Buffalo.

With two assists against the Islanders, 18-year-old rookie Zach Benson became the fifth Sabres player under the age of 19 to record a multiple-assist game, according to the team.