The Buffalo Sabers head into Amalie Arena tonight to face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the fourth and final time this season. Not sure what the schedule-maker was thinking but having the Sabres play against the defending eastern conference champions once every four games on average is pretty tough way for a young club to start the season, especially when the franchise is coming of consecutive 30th place finishes.
In the first meeting between the two clubs at
, the Lightning
schooled the Sabres dropping them to 0-2 on the season. Five days later the two
teams met again in Buffalo
with the Lightning coming out on top by a 2-1 margin. The Sabres played one of their
best periods of the season in Tampa
that night but received a lesson in what it takes to be a Cup-contender. Tampa
And one week ago today,
jumped all over
for three goals in the first period en route to a 4-1 victory. That first period
was one of the worst by the Sabres this season. Buffalo
Through no fault of his own rookie goaltender Linus Ullmark was pulled after the first period and replaced by Chad Johnson who stopped all 10 shots he faced the rest of the way. Because of that as well as his 20-save performance their second meeting, coach Dan Bylsma said on WGR550 that he would get the start tonight. "He went in for Linus (Ullmark) in the [last] Tampa Bay game and he was real solid for us," Bylsma told the Howard Simon Show. Bylsma also said that Johnson "was excellent for us" in the other two games against Tampa, "made some huge saves."
According to a Sabres tweet, the team worked on special teams at today's practice. Matt Moulson, Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Ennis, Sam Reinhart and Cody Franson on the first unit while Johan Larsson, Jack Eichel, Jamie McGinn, Brian Gionta and Rasmus Ristolainen were on the second unit. The Sabres as a team come into tonight's contest fifth in the league on the powerplay converting 11 of 48 chances for a 22.8% conversion rate.
As for the constantly changing lines here are the ones from practice yesterday according to Sabres.com:
Moulson, O'Reilly, Gionta
McGinn, Eichel, Ennis
Larsson, Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart
Nic Deslauriers, David Legwand/Tim Schaller, Marcus Foligno
Josh Gorges, Ristolainen
Jake McCabe, Franson
Mark Pysyk, Mike Weber
The Sabres also mentioned that Weber will not be in the lineup tonight after leaving the ice early today with a lower body injury. Colaiacovo will replace him.
The game tonight will be on NBCSN with a 7:30pm start.
Buffalo will continue their second Florida road-trip this season when they travel to Sunrise, FL to take on the Panthers on Thursday before coming home to finish the week against the San Jose' Sharks on Saturday.