The Tampa Bay Lightning played only seven times on home ice in the first 20 games of the season and hope to take advantage during a stretch of 14 dates at Amalie Arena in 18 contests that continues with a visit from the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. The Lightning won the first of that favorable run at home Saturday with a 6-2 triumph against Anaheim and have looked like a different team since their trip to Sweden for the Global Series early this month by going 5-2-0.
"We've been competing harder, winning more pucks, winning more puck battles, sacrificing more," Tampa Bay center Brayden Point said after scoring twice Saturday. "There have been times where we maybe weren't coming back as hard and now we're starting to do that, (being) more responsible with the puck, and it's been translating to more wins." The Lightning's resurgence began with back-to-back victories over the Sabres in the Global Series at Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 8-9 and Buffalo has been struggling since an impressive 9-2-1 start to the season, but showed life Sunday with a 5-2 victory at Florida. The Sabres, who have dropped five in a row against Tampa Bay, received three points from captain Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons scored twice to win for the second time in 11 games (2-7-2) to start their trip through the Sunshine State. Eichel extended his point streak to five games (six goals, four assists) while Buffalo survived despite giving up 45 shots and being down to 10 forwards when center Evan Rodrigues suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE SABRES (11-9-3): Jeff Skinner scored his ninth goal of the season - second only to Eichel (14) on the team - against Florida and fellow forward Victor Olofsson recorded his eighth, which is the most among rookies in the league. Defenseman Zach Bogosian made his season debut after missing 22 games with a hip injury and had an assist in 22 minutes, 3 seconds of ice time Sunday while Linus Ullmark made 43 saves, which should mean Carter Hutton (6-4-2, .909 save percentage) gets the start in net Monday. Buffalo dressed seven defensemen Sunday and blue liner Brandon Montour took some shifts up front after the injury to Rodrigues, who is not expected to be able to play Monday.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (11-7-2): Captain Steven Stamkos, who could miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury, right wing Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman lead the team with 20 points. Hedman has strung together a seven-game point streak (two goals, nine assists) since returning to his native Sweden and left wing Alex Killorn has matched that streak, totaling three goals and seven assists during his run. Center Anthony Cirelli has scored in four straight games and coach Jon Cooper told reporters of the versatile 22-year-old: "It's second, third, fourth, fifth effort. That's what he gives. He never gives up on a play. That's why he's become a valuable piece on our team."
1. The Sabres are 1-for-27 on the power play over the last 10 games and 20-for-31 on the penalty kill in the past eight contests.
2. Tampa Bay G Andrei Vasilevskiy broke Ben Bishop's franchise record with his 132nd win Saturday and is 9-1-1 lifetime versus the Sabres.
3. Buffalo RW Curtis Lazar was the lone forward scratched Sunday and the Sabres could need a call-up before Monday's contest with Rodrigues out.