The Sabres are starting back-to-back games. The Lightning are finishing them.
Here are Five Things to Know as Tampa Bay visits Buffalo on Saturday.
1. Bad news regarding Kyle Okposo
The Sabres’ leading scorer suffered a rib injury Thursday. X-rays were not good.
“He’s week-to-week at this point in time,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Saturday. “I hope that can be re-evaluated and get a better result after we go through seven to 10 days.”
Okposo has a team-high 43 points, putting up 19 goals and 24 assists in 63 games.
“It’s a big loss,” Bylsma said in KeyBank Center. “He’s obviously a top-line guy and on our power play, our leading point-getter. It’s a big loss, one we experienced when he went out of the game there. It jumbled the lines to get guys in the right spot with him out of the lineup.
"For the next little bit here, we’re going to have to deal with it.”
2. Buffalo victories are rare versus Tampa
The Lightning have won 10 of the last 12 games against the Sabres, going 10-1-1. Tampa won the previous two meetings this season by a combined score of 8-3.
Tampa Bay has earned at least one point in its last seven visits to KeyBank Center, going 6-0-1 since the start of the 2013-14 season.
“They have a dynamic rush team, a speed team,” Bylsma said. “They have a long element to their game that allows them to get four guys in the rush. That’s certainly something we’re going to have to slow them down, get in front of them.”
3. Robin Lehner is back and in net
After an excused absence from practice Friday, Lehner will head back to the net Saturday. It will be his third straight start and his 17th appearance in the last 20 games.
Lehner is 18-18-7 this season with a .921 save percentage and 2.63 goals-against average. He is 3-5 with a .892 save percentage and 3.45 GAA in eight games against the Lightning.
Forward Nicolas Deslauriers will return to the Sabres’ lineup with Okposo out. He’ll skate with center Zemgus Girgensons and left wing Justin Bailey. Deslauriers was scratched in the previous four.
"He needs to be a physical presence," Bylsma said. "He needs to be a factor in the game with his body. The line right now with Zemgus and Justin Bailey, we need all four lines to play in this game against the Tampa Bay Lightning."
4. Catch up
The Sabres are seventh in the Atlantic Division with 65 points in 64 games. The Lightning are sixth with 66 points in 63 games.
A regulation win will move Buffalo past Tampa, with one extra game played.
“In order for us to climb in the standings, we’ve got to climb by the guys that are right in front of us,” Bylsma said. “This is a game to slide above another Eastern Conference team.”
5. Win and a loss
The Sabres are looking for their second straight victory. They beat Arizona, 6-3, Thursday to end a four-game winless skid. Following Saturday's game, the Sabres will take a short flight to Pittsburgh. They play the Penguins at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Tampa Bay lost, 5-2, Friday night in Pittsburgh. It is 7-2-2 in its last 11 games. The Lightning have been winning despite injuries to centers Steven Stamkos (knee) and Ryan Callahan (hip).
Tampa Bay is 3-4-4 on the second night of back-to-back games.