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Sabres at Lightning preview: This could get ugly

A Sabres team going down in flames, on the wrong end of a back-to-back, takes on the winningest team in the Eastern Conference.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Game #43

Buffalo Sabres (14-25-3) at
Tampa Bay Lightning (26-12-4)

Puck Drop: 7:30 pm EST | Amalie Arena | Tampa, FL
TV: MSG, Sun | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge

Three Questions

1. Will this game be a bloodbath, or will the Sabres manage to keep it close, or even - gasp - win?

The Lightning are the top team in the Eastern Conference, while the Sabres are 1-9-1 in their last 11 games and have fallen to 14th place in the East. This contest should be an easy win for Tampa, but that's why they play the games. Can the Sabres surprise everyone and snap out of their losing streak, or will we see another depressing game for the blue and gold?

2. Will Ted Nolan shuffle his top line around to try and spark some scoring? Will it work?

Nolan threatened to break up his only NHL-caliber line after last night's loss, because their long hot streak which powered the team's December wins has come to a screeching halt. The Sabres have only scored seven goals in their last six games, and with the high-scoring Lightning on the other side of the ice, Buffalo will need to find some kind of offensive surge tonight.

3. How will Phil Varone follow up his two-goal effort last night?

The 24-year old forward scored twice last night, providing the only offense for the Sabres in Carolina, and he had a bunch of great chances the game before that. Tonight will be his third NHL game this season - will he continue to prove to Ted Nolan and Tim Murray that he should stay in the NHL?

Projected BUF lines

Moulson - Girgensons - Ennis
Stewart - Varone - Flynn
Hodgson - Grigorenko - Deslauriers
McCormick - Schaller - Kaleta

Gorges - Myers
Ristolainen - Zadorov
Weber - Strachan

Goal: Michal Neuvirth