The Sabres have a big task on Saturday against Tampa Bay

The Lightning come into town with one regulation loss in 19 games

Paul Hamilton
January 12, 2019 - 1:21 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres have run into a buzz saw this weekend. On Friday, they were in Carolina and lost 4-3 to a team that has won 6-of-7 games. They return home on Saturday to play a Tampa Bay team that is 17-1-1 in their last 19 games.

That all started in late November against the Sabres. Buffalo had just beaten San Jose for its 10th straight win. The Sabres went into Tampa with the most points in the National Hockey League and left one point behind the Lightning.

As I mentioned, the Lightning have gone 17-1-1, while the Sabres have gone 6-9-4. That means Tampa Bay picked up 35 points while Buffalo accumulated 16 points.

The Sabres beat Tampa Bay here in Buffalo 2-1. Carter Hutton was stellar in that game making 29 saves, but since this is back-to-back and Hutton played in Raleigh, I would think Linus Ullmark gets the call.

In his last start, Ullmark stood on his head making 39 saves in a 2-1 loss against Boston. Overall, Ullmark is 9-2-3 with a 2.69 goals-against and .924 save percentage.

Jason Pominville scored a nice goal on Friday, netting his first goal in 19 games. Afterwards, he really wasn’t thinking about the puck finally going in for him. He was more concerned with how the team played. He felt they gave up way too much to the Hurricanes.

Buffalo is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games against Tampa Bay, 3-5-2 at home.

The Sabres are seventh in the NHL at home with a 14-5-3 record. That’s a points percentage of .705. They’ve won their last two in Buffalo, but are 5-3-2 in their last 10.

Tampa Bay has won nine out of 10 games with the only loss in San Jose 5-2.

The Lightning are 8-1-1 in their last 10 road games and are 15-4-2 away from Florida.

Tampa Bay’s point percentage is almost .800. They lead the NHL with 4.09 goals per-game and have the best power play at 30-percent. Their penalty killing isn’t too shabby either as they’re eighth.

That’s the only place where Buffalo is ahead. The Sabres' PK is third in the league at 84.4-percent.

Brayden Point is the player people like to ignore. Point got snubbed for the NHL All-Star team after scoring 28 goals and 32 assists for 60 points in 44 games. He’s sixth in NHL scoring and has 11 more points than teammate Steven Stamkos. Point has six points in his last two games and has points in 10-of-11 games, scoring eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points.

The NHL’s leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov, has points in 14 out of 15 games. In that time, he has nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points. Overall, Kucherov has 21 goals and 51 assists for 72 points in 44 games. That works out to 134 points over 82 games.

The Sabres have not seen Andrei Vasilevskiy yet this season. He’s played in 11-of-12 games since returning from injury, going 9-1-1. He’s only given up one goal in his last two games against Carolina and Columbus.

Buffalo will not see Vasilevskiy in this game either as Louis Domingue gets his third start of the season against Buffalo. He's 15-4-0 with a 2.99 goals-against and .904 save percentage.

This season, Vasilevskiy is 18-4-2 with a 2.49 goals-against and .925 save percentage.

Join Brian Koziol for the pre-game starting at 6:00 when he’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Kyle Okposo and Johan Larsson.

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