(SportsNetwork.com) – The suddenly red-hot Buffalo Sabres will try to pull off
another improbable home-and-home sweep when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning
for Thursday’s battle at Amalie Arena.
A victory tonight would give the Sabres a second straight home-and-home sweep,
both against the Atlantic Division’s top two teams. Buffalo beat Montreal last
Friday and Saturday before taking the opener of this home-and-home Tuesday in
Western New York.
The Lightning entered the game in Buffalo on a four-game win streak and with a
one-point lead over Montreal for first place. The Bolts expected to make it
five straight victories on Tuesday against the Sabres, who came into the
opener 18 points behind Tampa in the division standings.
Instead, the Sabres picked up a 2-1 shootout victory to push their winning
streak to three games. Buffalo has now won six of its last seven contests
after beginning 2014-15 with a dreadful 3-13-2 mark.
Jhonas Enroth loomed large for the Sabres against Tampa, stopping 26 shots in
regulation and overtime before turning aside both shootout chances. Enroth has
won each of Buffalo’s last three games and is now 4-0-1 with a 1.56 goals
against average in five lifetime appearances against the Lightning.
“Our guys played really well in front of me,” Enroth said. “They didn’t have
too many scoring chances.”
Enroth was busiest in the second period, when Tampa outshot the Sabres by a
16-4 margin. Buffalo, however, held the Bolts to nine shots the rest of the
Zemgus Girgensons tallied in regulation for the Sabres, knotting the score at
1-1 with 3:54 left. Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis then scored in the shootout
Ondrej Palat lit the lamp for Tampa over six minutes before Girgensons’ goal.
Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves for the Lightning, who couldn’t maintain momentum
from a 6-3 road win over the New York Rangers on Monday.
Hodgson began the final portion of the contest by beating Nabokov on the
backhand, then Palat was turned away by Enroth. Ennis effectively put the game
out of reach with his successful shot, and Ryan Callahan failed on his try to
send the hosts to victory.
“He’s a good goaltender,” Lightning center Tyler Johnson said of Enroth. “He
made some good saves.”
The Sabres improved to 4-1 in shootouts, while Tampa Bay fell to 1-3. It was
Buffalo’s second win in the last three overall meetings with the Lightning.
The Sabres have claimed three of the past five encounters in Central Florida.
Buffalo’s Drew Stafford is questionable for tonight after missing the last two
games with a lower-body injury. The forward is third on the Sabres with 12
points on four goals and eight assists.
Tampa will return to No. 1 goaltender Ben Bishop tonight. He is 15-3-2 on the
season and boasts a 4-0-1 record and 2.31 GAA in five career games against the