Sluggish starts, even at HSBC Arena, haven’t been enough to slow down the Buffalo Sabres.
Though plagued by first-period problems, the Sabres look to extend a seven-game point streak at home in a matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
Northeast Division-leading Buffalo (26-11-4) has won four straight and 14 of 20, posting a 1-0 victory at Montreal on Sunday.
The Sabres now play three in a row at home, where they have earned points in seven straight (5-0-2). It’s their longest such streak since a nine-game run (8-0-1) from Jan. 17-March 2, 2007.
Buffalo has managed to continue its success at HSBC Arena despite getting outshot 39-7 and outscored 2-0 in the first period of its last three games. The Sabres have been outshot 62-20 in the opening period of their last five overall.
Ryan Miller’s(notes) play has helped Buffalo persevere through its poor starts. He’s coming off his fifth shutout, turning aside 30 shots against the Canadiens for his second straight win after being chosen for the U.S. Olympic team Friday.
Miller, who has a 2.02 goals-against average, made 24 saves and didn’t allow a shootout goal in a 2-1 victory at Tampa on Oct. 24. The Sabres improved to 14-3-0 against the Lightning (16-15-10) since the start of the 2005-06 season.
Smith earned his 50th career win Saturday, making 25 saves to beat Pittsburgh 3-1.
“We’re not there yet just because we won a few games,” Konopka said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s starting to change in the right direction.”
Konopka celebrated his 29th birthday with the winning goal against the Penguins. The rugged center has a league-high 146 penalty minutes and has found the back of the net twice in 40 games.
St. Louis scored his ninth goal, giving him a team-high 45 points. He has three goals and seven assists during a seven-game point streak and seven goals and eight assists in 13 road games against the Sabres.
Stamkos has 18 assists and a team-high 21 goals but hasn’t scored in five straight games.
The Lightning have scored 10 goals en route to winning two straight road games after being held to 11 in losing their previous seven (0-5-2).