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12-05-2003, 08:32 PM
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Gameday: Lightning at Sabres 12/6

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (11-6-4-1) at Buffalo Sabres (12-12-2-1).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

[I]At least the Tampa Bay Lightning know the reason for their season-high six-game winless streak. Struggling to generate much offense, Tampa Bay will try to take out its frustration on the Buffalo Sabres when the teams meet for the second time this season.

The Lightning began this season with just two regulation losses in their first 16 games (11-2-2-1), but a lack of offense lately has been the main problem during an 0-4-2 skid. Only captain Dave Andreychuk was able to find the back of the net Thursday as Tampa Bay lost its third straight, 4-1 to visiting Ottawa. The Lightning's offensive woes are so bad that they failed to convert a rare three-on-none breakaway in the second period. During the six-game streak, the Lightning have scored just six goals and are 2-for-33 on the power play.

The Lightning have continued to play well defensively during the winless streak, giving up 13 goals. Starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has allowed just nine goals in his last five starts while backup John Grahame gave up more than two goals for the first time this season on Thursday.

The Sabres, one of the league's most inconsistent teams, had a three-game home win streak snapped Thursday with a 3-2 loss to Phoenix after failing to protect a third-period lead.

"We've got to find a way to win those games," center Adam Mair said. "You can't be letting a team come back with four minutes left and scoring a goal against you. We've got to learn from our mistakes."

J.P. Dumont and Daniel Briere each scored their ninth goals of the season for Buffalo, loser of four of its last five on the road. Briere's goal was his fourth in the last four games, giving him 15 points in his last 16 games.

The Lightning had been outscored 22-11 during six straight losses in Buffalo before going 1-0-1 there last season.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 4): Lightning - 27 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Southeast Division. Sabres - 27 points, 4th place, 8 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Cory Stillman and Lecavalier, 10 goals; Martin St. Louis, 13 assists and 18 points; Chris Dingman, 61 PIM. Sabres - Dumont and Briere, 9 goals and 22 points; Dumont, Briere and Chris Drury, 13 assists; Andrew Peters, 71 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 4): Lightning - Power play: 14.6 percent (15 for 103), 20th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (76 for 88), 4th. Sabres - Power play: 13.6 percent (15 for 110), 24th. Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (113 for 133), 11th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Khabibulin (8-4-3, 2 SO, 2.04 GAA); Grahame (3-3-1, 1, 1.44). Sabres - Martin Biron (6-6-2, 2.71); Mika Noronen (6-5-0, 2, 2.08).

SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 22; Lightning, 2-1. At Tampa, Fla., Defenseman Pavel Kubina recorded his second career two-goal game and Grahame stopped 25 shots to lead the Lightning.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 3-3-2-0 on the road; Sabres - 6-4-1-1 at home.

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