|11:00 AM PT12:00 PM MT1:00 PM CT2:00 PM ET19:00 GMT3:00 12:00 PM MST2:00 PM EST23:00 UAE14:00 ET17:00 BRT, November 8, 2019
Ericsson Globe, Stockholm, Attendance: 13,230
Sabres, Lightning set to open series in Sweden
Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres
- The Lightning and Sabres begin the first of two straight meetings in Stockholm, Sweden as part of the NHL's 2019 Global Series. Friday's contest marks the third time both franchises have played a regular-season game in Europe, as Tampa Bay lost twice to the Rangers in Prague in October 2008 and Buffalo defeated the Ducks (in Finland) and the Kings (in Germany) in October 2011.
- The Sabres will be well-represented with six Swedish-born players on their current roster, three of which (Rasmus Dahlin, Victor Olofsson, Marcus Johansson) have nine or more points this season. Only Nashville (4) has more Swedes that have reached that total in 2019-20.
- After averaging 3.7 goals per game while getting off to an 8-1-1 start, the Sabres have totaled just seven goals while losing four of their last five contests (1-3-1). Buffalo has scored two goals or fewer in each of those five games, its longest such stretch in a season since a six-game run to end the 2016-17 campaign.
- Steven Stamkos, the lone remaining member from Tampa Bay's 2008-09 team that last played in Europe, enters this series two goals shy of becoming the ninth active player to score 400 for his career. The 29-year-old, who will be playing in his 760th career game Friday, can reach the mark faster than all but one of those eight players (Alex Ovechkin, 634 games).
- Buffalo is 3-0-0 against Atlantic Division teams in 2019-20 and has won five straight divisional games dating back to last season. Another victory would give the Sabres their longest winning streak within their division since defeating seven straight Northeast Division foes from Dec. 15, 2010-Feb. 15, 2011.
- Ryan McDonagh became the fifth Lightning defenseman with a goal this season when he scored in last Friday's 5-2 loss to the Islanders. Tampa Bay defensemen have accounted for 29.7 percent of the team's points, the fourth-highest rate in the NHL behind Minnesota, the Islanders and Carolina.
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The NHL Global Series game between the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning in Stockholm on Friday will provide another opportunity for the league to showcase itself abroad. And as a bonus, several players will get the chance to play in their home country.
The Sabres feature six players on their roster who are from Sweden: forwards Marcus Johansson, Victor Olofsson and Johan Larsson, defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Lawrence Pilut, and goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is the only Tampa Bay player from Sweden.
The game is scheduled to be played at the Ericsson Globe, one of the most iconic sports venues in Stockholm. The two teams also will meet there Saturday.
"It's like Madison Square Garden, a powerful arena," Dahlin told the Buffalo News. "You're super excited to play there. I've never been able to. My (club) team (Frolunda) played there, but I've been injured or at World Juniors so I didn't get the chance."
Johansson played for the New Jersey Devils last season when they opened the season against the Edmonton Oilers in Gothenburg, Sweden. He told the Buffalo News before the trip that it was a very memorable experience.
This two-game trip, however, has more of a business approach because the Sabres will be trying to end their first three-game losing streak of the season.
"You're definitely excited about it, but at the same time we're going there to play hockey," Johansson said. "This group wants to get better every night. We practice hard, play hard and don't look too far ahead. We're kind of in the moment, which helps us a lot."
Hedman, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman during the 2017-18 season, isn't guaranteed to play on Friday, but the possibility is looking better.
He departed a 4-1 loss at the New York Rangers after the first period on Oct. 29, and it later was revealed that Hedman has a lingering lower-body injury. He took the ice on Monday, however, and practiced in full on Tuesday.
"We're bringing him along slowly," Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters in Sweden. "All I can say is how he said he felt on the ice. He said he felt good."
The Lightning could use the boost, as they're 2-3-1 since getting off to a 4-2-1 start.
Tampa Bay last played at home on Oct. 26 against the Nashville Predators and won't return to Amalie Arena until Nov. 14, when they host the New York Rangers.
Buffalo has been off since a 1-0 loss to the visiting New York Islanders last Saturday. The Sabres have scored three goals in their three-game skid and have been held to two goals or fewer in the past five games.
Despite the recent struggles, the native Swedes on the Sabres still expect to have chills when they take the ice Friday.
"I look at it that it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to come home and play there in the NHL," Larsson said. "To play in your home country is going to be unbelievable."
--Field Level Media
Updated November 8, 2019