The Sabres play the NHL's best in Tampa Bay

November 28, 2017
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Tampa Bay is the best team in the NHL with a .739 point percentage, but the Lightning have lost two in a row and three out of four.

The losses have come to Pittsburgh, Washington and the Islanders with a win against Chicago sandwiched in there. Jason Pominville said there are pros and cons to playing a good team that’s on a losing streak, “Usually when you face a team that’s going through struggles, it gets their coaches going and they’re fired up for their next game, so hopefully we can take advantage of them struggling and not being too fired up.

“You want to play them when you’re trying to get out of what we’re trying to get out of we’d like to play them at their best because it raises our level as well.”

Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges will be the healthy scratches. Housley won’t say if Matt Tennyson is healthy, but he won’t play either. Housley does not want to bring Bogosian back too soon, “I really like the progress that he’s been making, but we want to be cautious with this type of injury.

“He looks really good out there and I feel with just one practice and a pregame skate, I think he just needs more time.”

After tonight, the Sabres won’t play until Friday. Housley thinks that’s what his injured defenseman needs, “We have some quality practice time this week. In Monday’s practice you could see that to one side, his pivoting isn’t where it needs to be, but I think we can take advantage of this week and our practices.”

Steven Stamkos is the NHL’s leading scorer at 10 goals and 26 assists for 36 points in 23 games.

Nikita Kucherov is second at 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points. Pominville said both players need to be accounted for tonight, “They’re going to get looks, but it’s to try to limit them. Their rush chances are really good, their power play is really good (number one in the NHL at 26.7 percent), so our puck management is going to be huge.

Stamkos is pointless in his last two games and has just one assist in his last four. Kucherov also has just one assist in his last four.

“They’re both great shooters, but they make really good plays as well," Pominville said. "So we’ll have to have our head on a swivel so we’re aware of where they are at on the ice.”

The Sabres did finally get some goals against Minnesota and Edmonton scoring seven, but Carey Price shut them out in Montreal.

Robin Lehner will be in goal. He was solid in the games against the Oilers and the Canadiens. Overall he’s 5-10-2 with a 2.96 goals against and .905 save percentage.

Tampa Bay has been riding Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s 15-3-1 with a 2.31 goals against and .930 save percentage.

Peter Budaj played the last game against the Penguins and gave up five. In his last six games Vasilevskiy has given up two goals or less in five of them.

When Tim Murray drafted Alex Nylander 8th overall in 2016, many were upset he didn’t take defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Montreal took him with the next pick and last summer traded him the Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin. Sergachev has been fantastic for the Lightning this season and the youngster could make Murray’s drafting look bad again depening on how Nylander develops.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pregame live from 716 at 6:00 when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson.

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