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TAMPA Cheap Leonard Williams Jersey , Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lighting still have the top spot in the Eastern Conference in their sights when they host the 31st overall team, the Buffalo Sabres, on Friday.

Coming off an impressive victory against the Boston Bruins earlier in the week, the Lightning need to win their final two games — preferably in regulation — to have the chance to overtake Boston for the Atlantic Division title, which also carries home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Tampa Bay's dominant 4-0 victory over Boston is the model moving forward for the Lightning, not just in the final two regular-season games but looking ahead to the postseason.

"We need to play the same way against everyone," Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi said after practice on Thursday. "I think that's where we get into trouble the last month or two, getting up for the big games, then letting down in the other ones. We're up and down. We're not playing the same way the whole time. As long as we can follow that effort up from Boston, we're going in the right direction Brandon Parker Jersey Elite , for sure."

The Lightning looked more like the team that was dominant during the early stages of the season, utilizing their team speed, getting pucks behind the opposing defense and establishing a strong forecheck presence. That limited the turnovers and put less pressure on the Tampa Bay defense along with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"We played a better 200-foot game," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "There wasn't nearly as many east-to-west turnovers that just slowed us up and killed our attack. We worked a lot harder for 60 minutes; we stayed with it."

Buffalo is in the exact opposite position, having already secured the last spot in the league in another lost season for the Sabres.

Under first-year coach Phil Housley, Buffalo showed little improvement in the standings, but hopes strides were made in becoming more cohesive as a team learning a new system.

"I believe in our system," Housley told The Buffalo News. "I believe in our structure. I believe when we play a brand of game that's the right way — we're on top of people and we're not cheating the game and we're doing things for the better part of the team — you can see we're a good hockey team."

The Sabres have beaten the Lightning twice this season, including an overtime win on Feb. 28 at Amalie Arena, but are just 2-7 in their past nine games Authentic Malik Jefferson Jersey , helping plummet the drop to the cellar.

"There's no secret we're in last place, and it's a tough place to be," forward Nick Baptiste told The News. "But there's only room for improvement. If we can as a group kind of look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out what it is as an individual that you can bring to the table to be better in a team sense, it will help us immensely and improve this team."

Takkarist McKinley should be next in the line of the second-year breakout players on the Atlanta Falcons' defense.

He knows he needs to be healthy to make that next step and now he's trying to move past another shoulder injury.

McKinley has had surgeries on both shoulders the last two years 鈥?the right following his 2016 season at UCLA and the left following his 2017 rookie season with the Falcons.

A new problem, a bruised right shoulder, has prevented the second-year defensive end from participating in team drills for most of the start of training camp. He again was limited to individual drills on Monday.

The Falcons say there's no structural problem, but McKinley's status is uncertain for Atlanta's preseason opener at the New York Jets on Friday night.

McKinley said Monday he's never happy "when you're not out there on the field. When I play football, I'm not trying to be on the sideline, I'm trying to be out there on the field."

Coach Dan Quinn said "Takk" could be cleared for full participation on Tuesday, so he hasn't been ruled out for the game against the Jets.

The Falcons likely will take a cautious approach with McKinley Taven Bryan Color Rush Jersey , the 2017 first-round pick whose health is a key to continued improvement by the defense.

He had six sacks as a rookie backup in 2017. The Falcons hope he can earn a starting job and emerge as another player who makes significant progress in his second year.

"It will happen with Takk," Quinn said Monday. "We'll see that jump from him."

McKinley said Quinn has talked with him about how the team's other projected starting defensive end, Vic Beasley Jr., led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks in 2016, his second season. Quinn also told McKinley about safety Keanu Neal and linebackers Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell earning Pro Bowl honors in their second seasons and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett also breaking out in his second year.

"But just because they had a good second year don't guarantee that I'll have a good second year," McKinley said. "The sophomore slump is a huge thing.

"Obviously I'm trying to be on the good side, not the slump side. It's one of those things where you've got to prove yourself to be better."

McKinley actually proved a lot as a rookie. After his six sacks in the regular season, he added two more in the playoffs.

"Looking back I should have had at least 13 sacks if I had finished," he said, adding he missed opportunities when he would "reach out with your arms instead of wrapping up."

Adrian Clayborn led the Falcons with 9 1/2 sacks last season before signing with New England. Clayborn's departure opens the way for McKinley and Beasley Youth Tracy Walker Jersey , now a full-time end after spending time at outside linebacker last season, to be the starting ends.

Even when he's not on the practice field, McKinley said he's preparing for the bigger workload as a starter.

"When I'm not there on 11 on 11, I'm trying to stay in shape and do things inside to get me prepared for the reps I'm going to have this season," he said. "That's probably the biggest thing, just understanding that I'm going to be playing more."

NOTES: Former six-time Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson visited practice and posed for a photo with Falcons receivers Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley. ... The Falcons have ruled out PK Matt Bryant (undisclosed injury) and OT Ty Sambrailo (right hand) for the preseason opener. Bryant, 44, was on the field during part of the practice. Quinn said Bryant "is coming along quickly but he's not there yet."

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