Sabres Hope to Avoid Being Struck by Lightning

The Sabres hope to bounce back in the first of a Florida back-to-back.

Game 56

Buffalo Sabres (28-23-4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (36-17-3)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM ET | Amalie Arena


Radio: WGR-550

SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge

Know Your Opponent

Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: (36-17-3)

Last Game: 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks

Division Ranking: 3rd in the Atlantic Division

PP: 25.8% (3rd)

PK: 81.5% (10th)

What to Watch

1. Offensive Threats

The Lightning have a few key players to watch on the offensive side of tonight’s game. Nikita Kucherov has 80 points in just 56 games, including 59 assists - a critical playmaker for Tampa. Brayden Point has notched 61 points (33-28), while Steven Stamkos has 59 points. Alex Killorn, Brandon Hagel and Victor Hedman are other notables.

On the Sabres side, in case you need a reminder, Tage Thompson leads the team with 72 points (36-36), of course. Alex Tuch, who just recently notched his 100th career NHL goal, has 61 points in just 55 games. Rasmus Dahlin has 60 points, while Jeff Skinner has 54 on the season. Dylan Cozens is nearing the 50-point mark as well.

2. Winning Ways

The Lightning will certainly provide a formidable challenge for the Sabres. They’ve won four of their last six games, including a 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on February 9 and the 6-1 win over Anaheim this past Tuesday.

This is a true time of challenge for the Sabres. We all saw what happened earlier this week against the Leafs, who are second in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning are third, three points back of Toronto. Tomorrow’s opponent, Florida, is fourth (11 points back of Tampa). These are a few critical games that will show us what the Sabres are truly made of, leading into Sunday’s matinee against the Capitals, an opponent in the wild card race.

3. It’s Comrie’s Turn

Eric Comrie is expected to get the start in goal on Thursday night, returning to the NHL crease for the first time since February 15 and just the fourth time since the calendar year turned. Comrie has appeared in 14 games this season with the Sabres, going 6-8 in that stretch. He has a 3.50 GAA and .883 save percentage, having allowed 47 goals on 401 shots faced.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch

JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Victor Olofsson

Casey Mittelstadt – Peyton Krebs – Jack Quinn

Zemgus Girgensons – Tyson Jost – Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin – Henri Jokiharju

Mattias Samuelsson – Owen Power

Jacob Bryson – Ilya Lyubushkin

Kale Clague

Goaltenders: Eric Comrie (projected starter), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Craig Anderson

Tampa Bay Lightning


Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Patrick Maroon

Vladislav Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry


Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak

Ian Cole - Nicklaus Perbix

Goaltenders: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brian Elliott