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Sabres look to end skid against Lightning

Tampa Bay (2-3-3) at Buffalo (6-1-2), 7:00 pm EDT

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- After solving every team in the

early stages of the season, the Buffalo Sabres are now

scrambling for answers.

Hoping to avoid a mild three-game losing streak, goaltender Ryan

Miller and the Sabres host the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning on

Thursday.

Beginning the season with six wins in seven games, Buffalo

suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on

Saturday.

The Sabres then fell for the first time in regulation on Monday,

when the Ottawa Senators skated to a 5-2 victory. Playing in

place of Miller, former Senator Patrick Lalime was the victim of

two goals by Jason Spezza and a power-play tally by Dany

Heatley.

Miller has been terrific, posting a 5-0-1 record and a

league-best 1.60 goals-against average through six games. Left

wing Thomas Vanek has provided plenty of support for the former

Michigan State standout and 2001 Hobey Baker Award winner,

netting eight goals.

The Lightning are coming off an impressive 3-2 win over the

Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, thanks to two goals by captain

Vincent Lecavalier. Mike Smith made 37 saves and has now

yielded more than two goals just twice in six games this season.

The top pick in this past June's draft, Steven Stamkos recorded

his first career point when he set up Lecavalier's second goal

of the game. The 18-year-old prized prospect was held scoreless

in his first seven games, and a lack of playing time may have

been the reason.

Coach Barry Melrose has given Stamkos an increase in ice time

over the past few games, however, as the teenager logged 12

minutes, 58 seconds on Tuesday. Stamkos ranked 46th among NHL

rookies before Wednesday with an average ice time of 11:10.

Tampa Bay, which has scored a league-low 14 goals, has yet to

register more than three in a game this season. All eight of

its contests have been decided by one tally.

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