Coming off their second straight road win, the Buffalo Sabres look to continue their dominance at St. Pete Times Forum.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, though, have been playing their best hockey of the season there.
Buffalo looks for another quick start Saturday night, when it faces a Lightning club that finally scored a first-period goal in its last game.
The Sabres (5-1-1) opened their three-game trip Wednesday with a 5-2 victory over Florida. Mike Grier(notes), Jason Pominville(notes) and Matt Ellis(notes) scored in the opening 4:37, and Tyler Myers(notes) and Thomas Vanek(notes) also found the back of the net in the first period for the Sabres, who have won five of six and are 2-0-0 on the road.
“I was very impressed with the start,” Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller(notes) said after making a season-high 41 saves. “I think that everyone in the room recognized that our last home start (Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Atlanta) wasn’t what we wanted.
“We wanted to definitely come back and prove that we could bring our game together and not lose two in a row. That’s going to be important over the course of a season.”
So will the play of Miller, who is 5-0-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average. He is 13-3-0 with a 2.79 GAA in 16 career starts against the Lightning, including a 7-1-0 mark at Tampa.
The Sabres split two games at St. Pete Times Forum last season, but they are 13-3-0 in Tampa since the beginning of 2005-06.
The Lightning (3-3-2), who are 3-0-1 at home, are looking to build off Thursday’s 5-2 win over visiting San Jose.
Tampa Bay had been outscored 9-1 in the first period of its first seven games, but it scored twice against the Sharks in the opening 20 minutes, including James Wright’s(notes) first NHL goal 30 seconds into the game.
It was the first time this season Tampa Bay scored first.
“He’s a breath of fresh air,” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said of Wright, who was promoted to the No. 1 line with Vincent Lecavalier(notes) and Martin St. Louis(notes). “He’s a 19-year old that does what you ask.”
St. Louis looks to extend his season-opening point streak to nine after assisting on Wright’s goal. St. Louis has nine assists and 12 points.
Lecavalier also assisted on the Lightning’s first goal, but he has not found the back of the net in his last 15 games.
Lecavalier has nine goals and 10 assists in his last 15 games against Buffalo.
Lightning goaltender Mike Smith(notes) went 1-2-0 with a 3.37 GAA against the Sabres last season. After missing the last 32 games of 2008-09 due to post-concussion syndrome, Smith made 32 saves Thursday when he won for the first time since Jan. 27.
“He had a really good week of practice,” Tocchet said. “When he practices well he’s right on.”
Vanek’s goal Wednesday came after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury. He had four goals and an assist against Tampa Bay in 2008-09.
In the teams’ last meeting in Tampa, the Lightning won 5-3 on Jan. 21 to snap a seven-game home losing streak to the Sabres.