The Buffalo Sabres are looking more like a contender this season by finding ways to pull out games and will look to test themselves against the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning at home Tuesday night. The Sabres knocked off Montreal 6-5 in overtime on Thursday before rallying late to tie and later defeat red-hot Vancouver 4-3 in a shootout Saturday to extend their home point streak to four (3-0-1).
"It's a good feeling to have that belief," Buffalo forward Sam Reinhart told reporters after Saturday's win. "You're going to run through adversity throughout the year and you sort of need to keep that belief. Things aren't going to go your way, you're going to have bad nights. (Saturday) I think wasn't our best night, but we found a way to get the job done and get two points." The Sabres split four matchups in the season series last season, but the Lightning are 6-1-1 in the past eight meetings as they begin a tough four-game road trip that continues on to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Nashville. Tampa Bay will have to turn the page on a dispiriting 6-4 loss to Ottawa on Saturday after giving up four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to end a four-game winning streak. "It's time to reset," Lightning forward Tyler Johnson told the team's website. "We've got to have a good road trip, get some wins here. It's all about the start and trying to get some momentum right away."
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ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (12-4-1): Victor Hedman scored in his first game back following a seven-game injury absence, but fellow defenseman Anton Stralman is considered day-to-day after missing Saturday's contest with an upper-body injury. Right wing Mathieu Joseph scored twice in the loss to Ottawa and has posted four goals in the last four contests after going without one in the first 13 games of his NHL career. Center Brayden Point leads the team with nine goals and 19 points, but owns a minus-4 rating in the last two games, while right wing Nikita Kucherov (198 career assists) is next with 18 after managing two shots combined the past two contests.
ABOUT THE SABRES (9-6-2): Captain Jack Eichel, who missed parts of Saturday's game with a lower-body injury but returned for the third period, has seven assists in his last four games to tie Jeff Skinner for the team lead in points (19). Skinner (398 career points) tops the team with 12 goals after posting six in the past five games and Reinhart has registered three two-point performances in his last four contests to double his output on the season. Rasmus Dahlin, the first pick in last June's draft, recorded his first two-point game in the NHL with two assists Saturday and fellow defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen owns five points in the last five contests.
1. Tampa Bay D Ryan McDonagh boasts 199 career assists after posting five to go along with a plus-6 rating in the last four games.
2. The Sabres are 0-for-9 on the power play the last three contests, but have killed off all 11 opportunities in a four-game span.
3. Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy is 7-1-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and two shutouts lifetime versus Buffalo.