The Buffalo Sabres are on the verge of their best road start in five years. If recent history is any indication, they'll have a good chance to accomplish that feat Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sabres (5-1-0) have won their first four road contests, something they last achieved in 2009-10. A fifth victory away from home would give Buffalo its best such start since 2006-07, when they opened 10-0 on the road.
Set to conclude a four-game trip Saturday, the Sabres have given up three goals in the first three games. Buffalo defeated Florida 3-0 on Thursday.
Ryan Miller made 22 saves Thursday after stopping 40 shots in a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Tuesday.
"We owed (Miller) one, so I thought that was important, too, for the way we played in Montreal," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought that last 40 minutes and especially when leading we stayed away from any of the odd-numbered stuff and we were going to make Florida earn something if they were going to get it."
The Sabres now look to continue their road roll at Tampa, where they've taken 10 of the last 12 meetings.
The Lightning haven't earned much against Miller throughout his career. He is 17-4-0 with a 2.74 goals-against average in 21 lifetime starts versus Tampa Bay, and has a 2.47 GAA in Buffalo's last 12 road games in the series.
Steven Stamkos scored for the second straight game to help the Lightning (2-3-2) end a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday.
Tampa Bay was outscored 23-13 during the skid, but allowed only 17 shots on goal versus New York after giving up at least 33 in its previous six games. The tight defense had the Lightning finally looking like the team that made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season.
"If we play the game we played (Thursday), we'll give our team a chance to win every single night," Stamkos said. "We showed why we were successful last year."
Vincent Lecavalier, with six goals and two assists in his last seven games against Buffalo, has also scored in two straight contests.
"That's the way we want to play," Lecavalier said. "Last year we were successful because we played like that."
Mathieu Garon made his second straight start due to the struggles of Dwayne Roloson, who is 1-2-1 with a 5.09 GAA. Garon has given up three goals in the two contests, but it's uncertain who will start Saturday, though neither choice will be easy for coach Guy Boucher.
Garon is 1-7-0 with a 3.61 GAA versus the Sabres, while Roloson is 0-7-1 with one tie and a 4.05 GAA against Buffalo.
That may not bode well for the Lightning as they face nemesis Thomas Vanek, who scored twice Thursday to give him six goals on the season.
Five of Vanek's last eight shots on Roloson have gone in the net. He scored twice in Buffalo's 7-4 win at Tampa on Feb. 8, then recorded a hat trick in a 4-2 home victory over the Lightning on April 5. He has three hat tricks and 22 goals in 24 career games in the series.
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