Game Start Time
April 20th, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to end the 2014 calendar year on a high note when they shoot for a fourth straight victory in a New Year's Eve battle Wednesday at Buffalo's First Niagara Center.
The Lightning have won three straight for the first time since a four-game run from Nov. 22-Dec. 1, posting recent victories over Pittsburgh, Carolina and Toronto to complete a perfect three-game homestand.
Tampa hopes to keep heading in the right direction on the road, although Jon Cooper's club has managed just one win in its last six tests away from Central Florida.
All told, the Lightning are just 8-7-3 as the guest this season and they suffered a 2-1 shootout loss when they visited Buffalo on Dec. 2. Tampa was able to follow up that defeat with a 5-0 home rout of the Sabres just two days later and the Bolts have claimed four of the past six meetings in this series.
Tampa, which is tied with Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, scored three unanswered goals to earn a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Monday. Steven Stamkos' 20th goal of the season broke a 2-2 deadlock, and the Lightning also got goals from Ryan Callahan and Valtteri Filppula.
Ben Bishop made 21 saves on 23 shots against him. Tampa's franchise goaltender is questionable for tonight after sitting out practice on Tuesday with a nagging lower-body issue. Bishop, who is 18-6-2 with a 2.29 goals against average this season, missed four games earlier this month due to injury.
On Tuesday, Tampa Bay recalled goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy from its AHL affiliate in nearby Syracuse in case Bishop is unable to suit up. However, the Lightning said Bishop's absence from practice on Tuesday and Vasilevskiy's call-up were merely precautionary measures.
Tonight's test marks the start of a four-game road trip for the Lightning, who will continue the swing Friday in Pittsburgh.
The Sabres begin a brief two-game homestand after losing for the fifth time in six games with Monday's 5-2 loss in Ottawa. Bobby Ryan scored three goals for his fourth career hat trick to help the Senators breeze past Buffalo.
Zemgus Girgensons and Mark Pysyk scored for the Sabres, while Jhonas Enroth gave up four goals on 35 shots.
"We made mistakes that led to their goals and didn't make it tough enough for them," Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said. "Uncharacteristic game for us."
The setback dropped Nolan's club to 4-12-1 on the road, but they hope to rebound in Western New York, where the Sabres are 10-8-2 this season.