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Sabres vs. Lightning preview

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blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The Buffalo Sabres (5-2-0) don’t have to wait long for a second shot at Tampa Bay’s Mathieu Garon.  A career backup, Garon stonewalled the Sabres in a 3-0 Lightning victory on Saturday; Buffalo’s offense was MIA, and to make matters worse, the Sabres lost feisty center Tyler Ennis indefinitely to an ankle injury.  According to the Lightning’s Twitter account, Tampa Bay will ride the hot hand tonight as Garon makes his third consecutive start.

On the back end of a home-and-home, the Lightning visits the First Niagara Center tonight for a 7:30 p.m. face-off on Versus

Tampa Bay Lightning
2010-11 record:  46-25-11, 103 points, 5th in Eastern Conference
Lost to Boston in seven games in Eastern Conference Finals
2012 record:  3-3-2, part of a three-way tie for 7th in Eastern Conference.

Garon’s surprising dominance: The former Blue Jacket net-minder has climbed into a time-share between the pipes with incumbent Dwayne Roloson;  Garon’s sparkling 1.51 goals against average—good for fifth in the NHL—complements his 2-1-1 record and .948 save percentage. 

Replacing Ennis:  Ennis’ injury has forced Buffalo to shuffle its lines—Ville Leino kicks back to wing, his natural position, on a line with Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.  Hopefully that will ignite Leino’s season, as the off-season acquisition has been rather useless when he’s not sniping around the net—his give-away led directly to Martin St. Louis’ goal Saturday.

Breaking Boyes’ dry-spell:  Brad Boyes vanished in last year’s playoffs—not exactly the result that Darcy Regier hoped for when he made the mid-season acquisition.  The former Blues’ winger has only one point through seven games this year, and he’s seen his ice-time dwindle to 9:08 in the first match-up against Tampa Bay.  Lindy Ruff has placed Boyes on the top power play unit this week, however, joining Pominville, Vanek, Ehrhoff and Gragnani on the man-advantage. 

This isn’t a kind graphic about Boyes’ shooting ability, however.

Prediction:  4-2 Sabres (Goals: Roy (2), Leino, Stafford; Stamkos, Purcell.)

TAGGED: brad boyes, buffalo sabres, darcy regier, lindy ruff, martin st. louis, mathieu garon, tampa bay lightning, tyler ennis, ville leino

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