Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, November 20th
Game 2: Saturday, December 18th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 8th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 5th

Sabres 1

(13-16-4, 30 pts)

Lightning 3

(18-10-4, 40 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 18, 2010

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
BUF 0 1 01
TB 0 2 13

N. Thompson (Lightning - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

R. Malone (Lightning - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

D. Tyrell (Lightning - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Sabres-Lightning Preview


As proud as he was that his club defeated one of the league's top goaltenders, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher was already looking ahead to a matchup against the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

The Lightning, though, may not face Ryan Miller after he delivered his worst performance of the season in the Buffalo Sabres' last game.

Tampa Bay looks to extend its home point streak to six on Saturday night when the Sabres try to rebound from a rough start to their two-game swing through Florida.

Despite firing just five shots on net during the third period and overtime against Ondrej Pavelec, who's among the NHL leaders with a 1.80 goals-against average, the Lightning (17-10-4) defeated Atlanta 2-1 in a shootout on Wednesday to move within a point of the Thrashers for second place in the Southeast Division.

Tampa Bay, which has a franchise-record 38 points through 31 games, would move into a first-place tie with Washington with a victory and regulation losses by the Capitals and Thrashers on Saturday.

"Right now, I don't care about Atlanta -- I care about our next game against Buffalo," Boucher said. "Now, we're going to meet Miller -- it's not going to be easier. We know that our game has to be tight."

Miller, though, was pulled after yielding four goals on 10 shots in the first period of Friday's 6-2 loss at Florida. It was the most goals allowed by Buffalo in any period this season.

"We played right into their game plan. Didn't adjust," Miller said. "After a horrible start, it was a boring game after that. Pathetic."

With Miller starting the last nine games following a two-game absence with a groin injury, Saturday might be a good time for coach Lindy Ruff to give Patrick Lalime a rare start.

"Patty did a great job (by stopping 14 of 16 shots)," said Sabres center Derek Roy, who snapped an 11-game goal drought with his 10th of the season. "Hopefully we can build some momentum heading into (Saturday)."

Starting for the injured Miller in a 2-1 home loss to Tampa Bay on Nov. 20, Lalime made 20 saves as Buffalo (13-15-4) had its four-game winning streak in this matchup snapped.

The veteran goaltender, 0-4-0 this season, hasn't posted a victory since turning away 22 shots in a 7-1 home win over the Lightning on March 27.

There's a good chance Boucher will give Mike Smith his second consecutive start after he had 27 saves on Wednesday -- plus four straight in the tiebreaker -- in his first appearance since Dec. 2.

"It was a good win for his confidence, and I believe things like that carry over," captain Vincent Lecavalier, who returned after missing 15 games with a right hand injury, told the Lightning's official website.

Smith made 29 saves in last month's victory in Buffalo, improving to 2-3-1 with a 3.20 GAA versus the Sabres, who have one win in their last six road games.

Steven Stamkos will try to help the Lightning -- 4-0-1 in their last five at home -- post their first six-game home point streak since a 6-0-1 run from Jan. 21-Feb. 9. Stamkos, second in the NHL in goals (24) and points (44) to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, has scored just one goal in his last eight games versus the Sabres.

He contributed two assists during Buffalo's last visit to St. Pete Times Forum, a 6-2 Sabres win March 18. Jason Pominville recorded his second career hat trick in that game, while Roy added a goal and two assists.

Buffalo has won 17 of 21 versus Tampa Bay.