Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST, KeyBank Center
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge
Know Your Opponent
Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Game: 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues
Division Ranking: 4th in the Atlantic Division
PP: 25.64% (7th)
PK: 77.63% (18th)
What to Watch
1. Buffalo Can Beat the Bolts, It’s Long Overdue
The Tampa Bay Lightning usually dominate their recent meetings with the Sabres, as they did just a few weeks ago. However, it hasn’t always been that way, believe it or not.
In Buffalo’s all-time record of playing Tampa since 1992, the Sabres beat the Lightning 56 times, lost 50 and tied 5. The Blue and Gold last won against Bolts on Oct. 25, 2021, with a 5-1 home ice victory. Tampa Bay isn’t sitting at the top of the standings at the moment and a disciplined Buffalo team could knock them down a peg, if one chooses to show up.
2. Penalty Killing a Lightning Weak Spot
The Lightning rank an NHL 7th in power play scoring (25.64%). By contrast, Tampa is much worse at penalty kills, a league 18th in stopping opponents with the man advantage. While the Bolts’ almost 78% record in killing penalties is good, it’s still well under other teams much lower in overall NHL standings including the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes.
If the Sabres manage to get a power play, they could have an easier time scoring on a Tampa team that’s far from the NHL’s best against the man advantage. Should Buffalo get an extra attacker, its offense needs to show patience and puck control, something the team’s lines don’t always consistently master.
3. Bookies Back the Bolts
The Sabres are +134 moneyline underdogs, according to Randy Chambers of Sportschatplace.com. Chambers believes the Lightning are starting to look like the same winning team they were in past seasons, making the most of shots offensively and being sharp on defense.
Buffalo has trouble keeping the puck out of its net, something home ice hasn’t really helped. Chambers feels that isn’t likely to change, and he also gives the Lightning a -1.5 point spread. If you think the betting consensus is wrong, wager on the Sabres for a substantial potential payout.
Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Jack Quinn
Victor Olofsson – Casey Mittelstadt – Vinnie Hinostroza
Zemgus Girgensons – Tyson Jost - Kyle Okposo
Mattias Samuelsson – Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Casey Fitzgerald – Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Craig Anderson (projected), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Injuries: Jacob Bryson, Eric Comrie
Tampa Bay Lightning
Brandon Hegel – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn – Nicholas Paul – Steven Stamkos
Corey Perry – Vladislav Namestnikov – Alex Barré-Boulet
Pat Maroon – Ross Colton – Rudolfs Balcers
Erik Cernak – Victor Hedman
Cal Foote - Mikhail Sergachev
Zach Bogosian - Ian Cole
Goaltenders: Brian Elliott (likely), Andrei Vasilevskiy
Injuries: Anthony Cirelli, Cole Koepke