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Preview: Sabres Face Red-Hot Lightning

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Sabres head to Tampa for penultimate game of season

Game #81

Buffalo Sabres (25-43-12) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (53-23-4)

Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | Amalie Arena | Tampa, FL

Season Series: 2-1 Sabres

11/28: Lightning 2, Sabres 0 (recap)

2/13: Sabres 5, Lightning 3 (recap)

2/28: Sabres 2, Lightning 1 (OT) (recap)

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Lightning blog: Raw Charge

What to Watch

1. Making History

The Buffalo Sabres have officially made NHL history – just probably not in the way they would’ve liked. With the loss to Ottawa on Wednesday, the Sabres clinched last place in the NHL, becoming the first team in league history to finish 31st.

With that, they’ll have the best odds for the draft lottery and the best odds at snagging the coveted first-overall pick.

2. At Least There’s Eichel

Jack Eichel has been a shining part of this dismal Sabres season, and has been on fire lately. Eichel has eight points (3-5) in his last five games and overall has 48 points (21-27) in his last 48 games dating back to the middle of November. He’s also potted 36 points in 33 road games this season.

It’s been tough at times to find the silver lining of this Sabres season, but Eichel is certainly one of them. Let’s see how he finishes out these last two games.

3. This is It

Just two games remain in the Sabres season; having clinched last place in the league, these final two may not hold a lot of stock for the Buffalo team – but they can certainly play spoiler. The Lightning are still looking to clinch first in the Eastern Conference, while tomorrow’s opponent, the Panthers, are still looking to secure a playoff spot – and they’ll need a win against Buffalo to keep that chance alive.

Know Your Opponent

1. The Race to 100

Nikita Kucherov might just reach the 100-point plateau this season, as he’s only two shy of that mark. Kucherov leads the Lightning across the board with 38 goals and 60 assists.’

So far, only one NHL player has eclipsed the 100-point mark this season: Connor McDavid, who has 106 points in 81 games.

2. No Stamkos

Steven Stamkos will miss tonight’s game against the Sabres. He’s expected to sit out both of the Lightning’s last two games with a lower-body injury.

Stamkos will finish the regular season with 86 points, including 27 goals and 59 assists, in 78 games played.

3. Win, Win, Win

The Lightning have won two of their last three games, including a 7-3 win over the Rangers at the end of March and a 4-0 rout of the Bruins on Tuesday.

Projected Lineup

20 Scott Wilson – 15 Jack Eichel – 21 Kyle Okposo

71 Evan Rodrigues – 37 Casey Mittelstadt – 29 Jason Pominville

92 Alex Nylander – 90 Ryan O’Reilly – 23 Sam Reinhart

17 Jordan Nolan – 22 Johan Larsson – 13 Nick Baptiste

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

45 Brendan Guhle - 8 Casey Nelson

41 Justin Falk - 82 Nathan Beaulieu

Starting Goaltender: 31 Chad Johnson