Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• With 36 points, TB is tied with MTL for the most points in the NHL and is off to its best start in franchise history through the first 25 games of a season.
• TB enters tonight having won four straight games, including a 6-3 win at NYR on Monday night. The Lightning have outscored opponents 16-8 during the win streak. Earlier this season, TB had a 6-game winning streak from Oct. 28-Nov. 9.
• TB is averaging an NHL-best 3.60 goals/game and is the only team to have scored 7 goals in a game three different times this season.
• C Steven Stamkos ranks third in the NHL with 15 goals and is tied for fourth with 29 points. He is on a 5-game point streak (3 goals, 4 assists) and has points in 11 of his last 12 games.
• Since the beginning of the 2009-10 season, no player in the NHL has scored more goals than Stamkos’ 225. Alex Ovechkin is the next closest player with 214.
• TB is 14-0-0 when RW Ryan Callahan scores a goal, dating back to last season when the club acquired him from NYR. Callahan is second on TB in goals (11) and tied for third in points (21).
• Callahan, a Rochester, N.Y., native, grew up rooting for the Sabres and played for the Buffalo Lightning of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OPJHL) from 2001-02.
• After starting the season 3-13-2, BUF has gone 5-1-0 in its last six games to pick up over half (10) of its total points (18) during that stretch. BUF is coming off back-to-back wins against MTL.
• G Jhonas Enroth has started five of the Sabres’ last six games – three of them coming in a four-night span – due to G Michal Neuvirth being out with a lower-body injury that he suffered on Nov. 18 against SJ. During those five starts, Enroth has gone 4-1-0, allowing 8 total goals.
• BUF has gained at least a point in each of its last six divisional matchups (4-0-2) for the first time since it had points in six straight games from Feb. 26-March 23, 2013, when it went 5-0-1
• BUF is averaging an NHL-worst 1.67 goals/game.
• The Tyler Ennis / Zemgus Girgensons / Matt Moulson line has combined to score 18 of the Sabres’ 40 goals this season.
• 82nd regular-season meeting between BUF and TB, and first of five meetings this season.
• Tonight is the first game in a back-to-back, home-and-home series. The teams will play again on Thursday at TB. They will also play this season on Dec. 31, Jan. 9 and March 3.
• TB has won 3 of its last 4 meetings against BUF.
• In their last meeting, TB won 4-3 (OT) at BUF on March 29 last season.
• BUF leads all-time series 50-24-5-2 (W-L-T-OL).
• TB: C Steven Stamkos has 10G-12A in 23 career games played vs. BUF, and has 3 game-winning goals.
• TB: G Ben Bishop is 4-0-1 with a 2.31 GAA and .920 SV% in 5 career starts vs. BUF.
• BUF: RW Drew Stafford has 9G-10A in 25 career games played vs. TB, including 3 power-play goals.
• BUF: G Jhonas Enroth is 3-0-1 with a 1.74 GAA and .949 SV% in 4 career starts vs. TB.
TAMPA BAY TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• C Steven Stamkos, who missed 45 games last season after breaking his leg, told the Tampa Bay Times in November that his right leg may never feel the same. Yet he has managed to play in all 25 of TB’s games this season. He leads the team in goals (15) and points (29), and power-play goals (6).
• RW Ryan Callahan, who signed a 6-year/$34.8 million contract extension with TB in June through 2019-20, has 6 points in his last 4 games.
• D Victor Hedman returned to the ice on Saturday against Ottawa after missing 18 games due to a finger fracture he suffered in the fifth game of the season. Hedman has 10 points in 7 games this season, including 3 assists in the Lightning’s 6-3 win over the Rangers on Monday night – his first points since the injury.
• TB acquired a third-round draft pick in 2015 from ANA on Nov. 28 in exchange for D Eric Brewer. The trade created a roster spot the Lightning needed with Hedman returning from injury. In 17 games for the Lightning this season, Brewer had 4 assists and a +5 rating.
• C Alex Killorn’s career-best seven-game point streak ended last night. He has scored the game-winning goal in two of TB’s last four games and has contributed to “all those little plays that kind of go unnoticed,” according to teammate Tyler Johnson.
• G Ben Bishop has allowed 2 or fewer goals against in six of his past nine games. He has started 20 games this season, posting a 15-3-2 record with a 2.30 GAA and .917 SV%. He has yet to record a shutout this season.
BUFFALO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• C Tyler Ennis leads BUF with 16 points and his 7th and most recent goal of the season is still being shared widely on social media. In a 2-1 win vs. MTL last Friday, Ennis squeaked past two Canadiens before scoring from behind his back while falling onto the ice.
• Entering the week, 20-year-old C Zemgus Girgensons was leading all players in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote. The highest-drafted Latvian player in NHL history (picked 14th overall by the Sabres in the 2012 draft) is tied with Ennis for the team lead with 7 goals. According to the Buffalo News, he’s received many of his votes from overseas in Latvia. In Latvian, “Zemgus” means “one who eats lions.”
• D Josh Gorges, who was the NHL’s leader in blocked shots when he hurt his knee on Nov. 11 vs. STL, is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last seven games, said head coach Ted Nolan.
• RW Drew Stafford, the longest-tenured Sabre, is third on the team with 12 points (4G-8A) but has not recorded a point in his last four games. He missed BUF’s game at MTL on Saturday (lower-body) but is expected to be back in the lineup tonight.
• When Stafford was 21 and starting his career, BUF was a Presidents’ Trophy team (2006-07). Now, at 29, he’s in the final year of his contract with a team that finished with its worst record in 42 years last season.
• RW Brian Gionta has just 2 goals through 24 games in his first season with the Sabres – both of which came in BUF’s 4-1 win over SJ on Nov. 18. Gionta scored 20+ goals seven times in his 12 seasons with MTL/NJ.
• RW Chris Stewart has 2 goals in his last 3 games after scoring just 1 goal in his first 21 games this season. Ever since being traded from STL to BUF at last season’s trade deadline, Stewart has been a popular name in the trade rumor mill, and he is now drawing interest from WPG and CHI.