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Sabres Head to Tampa in First Matchup of Season

Both teams are looking to bounce back after difficult losses against the Hurricanes this week

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NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Game 12

Buffalo Sabres (7-4-0) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (6-4-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Amalie Arena | Tampa, FL

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge

Know Your Opponent

Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 6-4-1 | 13 PTS

Last Game: 4-3 Shootout Loss vs. Carolina

Division Ranking: 3rd in Atlantic Division

PP: 11th (23.4%)

PK: 8th (82.5%)

What to Watch

1. Even Steven

Although Tampa Bay has been stacked with talent for several years now (and have the Stanley Cups to prove it), they are a solid match for this young Buffalo team. Aside from their almost identical records, the Lightning and the Sabres are also both coming off of a loss to Carolina following a three-game win streak. It is still very early in the season, but the visiting blue and gold have just one point more than the Bolts in the standings. Tonight could be a close one and the Sabres should take advantage of elite defenseman Victor Hedman being out of the lineup with an upper-body injury (fellow defenseman and former Sabre Zach Bogosian is also on the injury list but...when is he not?).

The last time these two teams met was in April when Tampa shut out Buffalo 5-0. Revenge game? Yes, please.

2. Streaking Sabres

The list of Sabres racking up points in consecutive games these days is actually quite impressive. Rasmus Dahlin - arguably the most impactful player on the team so far this season - is on a four-game point streak and has tallied six points in his last four games. He is second in the league among defensemen with 15 total points and has been on the ice for a majority of Buffalo’s scoring chances.

JJ Peterka and Jack Quinn are both on a three-game point streak and if Jacob Bryson tallies in any way tonight, he will join them.

Is anyone sick of talking about Victor Olofsson yet? Let’s hope not. There has been a lot of skepticism surrounding the Swedish winger during the few last seasons, but this year seems different. He currently leads the NHL in multi-goal games (four!) and is ranked fourth in total goals with nine. His shooting percentage on the powerplay is at 40%, and with last night’s goal against the Canes, Olofsson made a bit of history as the seventh player in the franchise to earn nine goals in the first 11 games of a season.

3. Hot Bolts

Buffalo will want to keep the puck away from forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos as often as possible tonight, obviously. Kucherov has 16 points so far, while Stamkos is not far behind with 12. Another notable Bolts player to keep an eye on is Mikhail Sergachev. The Russian defenseman has 10 points in 11 games this season and shows no signs of slowing down.

Also, it is a good thing Andrei Vasilevskiy is not expected to start between the pipes tonight. It is also pretty shocking that his team lost to Carolina in a shootout this week because the goaltender managed to make 52 saves. Interestingly enough, this was not the most he has ever recorded. In 2019, he broke the all-time NHL record for most saves with 54 in an overtime win against the Capitals.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards*

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Kyle Okposo

Jack Quinn - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson

JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Alex Tuch

Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Rasmus Asplund

*Vinnie Hinostroza may make his way back into the lineup tonight. In his last four games against Tampa Bay, he recorded three points.

Defense*

Jacob Bryson - Rasmus Dahlin

Kale Clague - Owen Power

Lawrence Pilut - Casey Fitzgerald

Goaltenders: Eric Comrie (expected starter), Craig Anderson

*Ilya Lyubushkin returned to practice this week following his October 18 lower-body injury. He is on the road trip but still considered day-to-day.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Steven Stamkos - Nick Paul - Alex Killorn

Cole Koepke - Vladislav Namestnikov - Ross Colton

Pat Maroon - Pierre Edouard-Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense

Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix

Haydn Fleury - Cal Foote

Goaltenders: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brian Elliott (expected starter)