NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 OT SO Tot
Buffalo 1 0 0 0 0 1
Tampa Bay 0 1 0 0 1 2
4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 PM MST7:30 PM EST4:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, February 21, 2019
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida  Attendance: 19,092

Sabres' rocky road gets tougher at Tampa

Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning

  1. Tampa Bay has won two of three meetings with Buffalo this season, scoring one goal in a loss followed by five goals apiece in two wins. Since the 2013-14 season, Tampa Bay is 18-4-2 (.792) against Buffalo -- they are the only team with a better record versus any team in that span (vs. Detroit, 20-4-0; min. 20 games).
  2. Tampa Bay has won seven straight and scored at least five goals in six of those games. Over that span (since February 9), the Sabres have not scored five goals even once.
  3. Buffalo has lost three straight entering tonight, most recently a 4-2 loss to the Panthers, in which the team allowed all four goals in the third period. The Sabres are allowing 4.00 goals per game during February, most in the NHL.
  4. Ryan McDonagh had a goal and an assist in his last game, his first multi-point game since December 3. His +9 plus/minus leads the Lightning during the team's winning streak.
  5. Jack Eichel netted the Sabres' first goal of the game on Tuesday, giving him 63 points on the season -- his career-high is 64 points, set last season. He has six points in six career games in Tampa Bay.
  6. Nikita Kucherov failed to tally a point in his last game and remains at 99 for the season. The team plays its 62nd game tonight - this would be the fastest to 100 points since Jaromir Jagr (52 games, 1995-96).

The Buffalo Sabres are reeling since their 10-game winning streak early this season, and they need to find a win somewhere to get back on track for a push to a playoff spot.

Trying to find that victory in Tampa Bay on Thursday night will be difficult.

The Sabres were blitzed by the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, failing to hold a 1-0 lead in the third period as the Panthers clicked off four goals in the final 20 minutes for a 4-2 victory.

Jack Eichel scored for the 1-0 advantage but lost a second goal when the Panthers successfully challenged for offside. Vladimir Sobotka tallied a harmless marker with eight seconds left in regulation for the Sabres, who fell to 11-18-5 since their lengthy winning streak from Nov. 8 to Nov. 27.

The loss dropped the Sabres to 2-7-2 in their last 11 games against the Panthers and 1-8-1 in South Florida in their past 10 visits.

The task doesn't get any easier when Buffalo (28-24-7, 63 points) travels up the Sunshine State's west coast to visit the sizzling Tampa Bay Lightning (46-11-4, 96).

Linus Ullmark has essentially taken over the starting goaltender job from Carter Hutton, and the 6-foot-4 Swede stood tall through 40 minutes as he stopped the first 24 shots against Florida before Jonathan Huberdeau (two goals), Jayce Hawryluk and Aleksander Barkov scored in the final period.

The Sabres played without winger Kyle Okposo, who was sent home from the trip after getting concussed following a punch from New York Rangers forward Tony DeAngelo in a 6-2 home loss on Friday.

"I think right now we're a fragile group," Eichel said. "It's been a tough stretch for us, without a doubt. It just seems like things are going the opposite way (than) they were. It's an uphill climb for us right now."

As far as comfort goes, the high-flying Lightning are locked in and producing some of their best hockey of the season.

The club completed a sweep on Tuesday night of its back-to-back set to start the week. Tampa Bay soundly defeated two Eastern Conference foes on the road -- the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Monday then the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 the next night.

Neither match was close. The Lightning, who have won seven straight, jumped out to 2-0 and 3-0 leads after the first period in each game, respectively. Goaltenders Andrei Vasilevskiy and Louis Domingue cruised from there and shut down the two Metropolitan squads.

Vasilevskiy has been brilliant of late, posting five shutouts in his last 15 starts. He came within 1:45 of posting his third straight blanking on Monday, but a goal by Lukas Sedlak ended a stretch of 183:53 of shutout netminding by the Russian goalie.

Left wing Yanni Gourde said Tampa Bay's unselfish play makes it easy for players to adjust.

"I think since the beginning of the year everyone felt comfortable playing with each other," said Gourde, who netted on the power play, his 17th goal, in the Philadelphia win. "I think it's the mentality of our team and our identity. And the way we play makes for such an easier adjustment."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 20, 2019

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