On the Line Against Buffalo, LA
Game Capsules: Buffalo Sabres vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday, Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m. Season Series: Tampa Leads 2-1 Los Angeles Kings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Monday, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m. Season Series: Tampa Leads 1-0
The freight train that is the 2018-19 version of the Tampa Bay Lightning Bolts keeps rolling and will make a stop at home for a pair of games.
After capturing road wins on Monday and Tuesday – outscoring the Blue Jackets and Flyers by a combined score of 10-3 – Tampa will try to keep building its momentum toward the playoffs when Buffalo comes to town on Thursday, followed by a visit from Los Angeles next Monday.
The Lightning Bolts will look to add to their league-leading 96 points in those contests and extend their seven-game winning streak in the process. Despite an 18-point advantage over its next closest competitor in the conference and a 17-point lead for the best record in the league. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said his team’s success during the regular season won’t mean much when the playoffs roll around.
“We have a pretty determined group,” Cooper said. “We have knocked at the door the last few years. Regular season success does not spell playoff success.”
About the Lightning:
Who’s Hot: With the win against Philadelphia, the Lightning have put together their third winning streak of at least seven games this season, becoming the fifth team in NHL history with at least three seven-game win streaks. The only squad to better that mark was the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers, which had four winning streaks of seven or more games. That Edmonton team, along with the Red Wings in 2007-08 and Canadiens in 1977-78, went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Who’s Not: Not many teams get the best of the Lightning, but Tampa has had its struggles with Buffalo the last two seasons. The Sabres took a pair of games last season from Tampa, despite finishing near the bottom of the NHL’s standings. The Bolts struggled to put pucks in the net in a 2-1 loss at Buffalo in November. The loss gave Tampa its first losing streak of the season. That was the first of only two back-to-back losing streaks for Tampa. Buffalo held third-period leads against the Bolts in the teams’ last two matchups, forcing Tampa to rally late for wins in those games.
About the Sabers:
After starting out the season as one of the surprise teams in the league, the Sabres have sputtered during the second half of the year. Buffalo held a spot near the top of the Atlantic Division not too long ago, but now finds itself out of a playoff spot, six points behind Columbus for the final wild card slot in the Eastern Conference.
The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and have dropped their last three contests.
Buffalo will need to tighten up on the defensive end if it wants to keep up with a Tampa squad that leads the league in scoring. The Sabres are giving up an average of four goals a game during the month of February and have turned to goalie Linus Ullmark for the majority of starts in net lately. The only problem with that is Ullmark has allowed nine goals in his last two starts. Carter Hutton by comparison has surrendered five goals in his last two games, but is struggling to get wins, going 3-10-2 since the Sabres last saw Tampa at the end of November.
On the offensive side, Jack Eichel has registered points in 14 of his last 16 games for Buffalo with three multi-point games in that stretch.
About the Kings:
The 2018-19 Los Angeles Kings are a long way off from the team that won a pair of Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. The Kings have been hanging out in the cellar of the Western Conference for most of the season and come into the week with the second worst record in the league.
The Kings are 44 points behind Tampa in the overall standings this year and have scored 99 less goals than the Bolts.
Tampa scored an easy 6-2 win in Los Angeles on Jan. 3 with six different Lightning players finding the back of the net in the win.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored one of those Los Angeles goals against Tampa, but only has one goal since that contest. Doughty leads the Kings with 18 points on the power play.
Anze Kopitar is the top sorer on the team, leading the Kings in goals (17), assists (24) and points (44).
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How to Watch:
Sun Sports/FOX Sports Florida
Stream live on the FOX Sports App
Vs. Los Angeles
NBC Sports Network
How to Listen:
Local Broadcast: 970-AM (WFLA)
Tampa is back on the road for a pair of games, taking on the Rangers and Bruins on back-to-back nights Feb. 27 and 28. The Bolts come home after that for four-straight at Amalie Arena, beginning with a matchup against Ottawa on March 2.
Content provided by Shawn LaFata and the Tampa Bay Lightning