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Sabres vs. Lightning preview: Hello Tampa, goodbye 2014

Game #38

Buffalo Sabres (14-20-3) vs.
Tampa Bay Lightning (23-11-4)

Puck Drop: 6:00 pm EST | First Niagara Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG, Bell TV, SUN | Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge

Three Questions

1. Can the Buffalo defense shut down the second highest scoring team in the league?

Tampa Bay have no shortage of scoring this year – led by the uber-talented Steven Stamkos, the Lightning rank second in the league with 121 goals, good for 3.18 per game. With Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyler Myers, and Andre Benoit all ruled out for tonight, can the patched together Sabres defense shut down the powerful Tampa forwards?

2. Will the Sabres be able to take advantage of another backup, AHL goaltender?

Andrei Vasilevsky is getting the start for Tampa tonight. Vasilevsky has played well for the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL this season, and has three games with the Lightning, sporting a .940 save percentage in the NHL. We’ve seen the Sabres struggle against starters while punishing backups over the past few weeks – can they take advantage of the inexperienced 20-year old?

3. How will we remember 2014?

It’s been a wild year for Sabres fans, with expectations all over the map, many franchise stalwarts now long gone, and a group of new and exciting players showing that they’re ready to grab the reins in 2015 and run with them. With one last game before the new year, how will the Sabres put a bow on 2014? Will we remember the team we all thought was going to finish dead last, or the team that’s made surprisingly large strides over the past few months?

Projected BUF lines

Moulson – Girgensons – Ennis
Deslauriers – Flynn – Stafford
Hodsgon – Grigorenko – Stewart
Larsson – McCormick – Kaleta

Gorges – Pysyk
Weber – Zadorov
Strachan – Meszaros

Goal: Jhonas Enroth

Talking Points