Just a few weeks ago the two clubs got together in Pittsburgh. The Sabres jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and appeared to catch the defending champions off guard. Luckily for the Penguins, games are 60 minutes and over the final 40 of the game, they dominated. Pittsburgh staged a furious comeback to tie and eventually win the game with a late third-period goal. That game continued the Sabres on their downward spiral as they lost four of the next five and fell out of the playoff race
Both teams come into tonight pretty banged up. The Penguins are without big names like Evgeni Malkin, Olli Maatta and Kris Letang. While the Sabres are down to their ninth and tenth defenseman on the depth chart. A win tonight by the Penguins combined with a Washington Capitals loss will put them in first place atop the Metropolitan Division. Also, a Penguins win will clinch them a spot in the playoffs to defend their Stanley Cup Championship.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres
Key Bank Center – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – MSG-B & ROOT
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 19 – Sabres 2, Penguins 1 (SO)
Mar. 5 – Penguins 4, Sabres 3
Pittsburgh Penguins – 45-17-9 – 99 Points
Road Record: 16-13-6
Hot Players: Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary
Key Injuries: Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Daniel Sprong, Olli Maatta, Kris Letang, Carl Hagelin & Ron Hainsey
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Conor Sheary
Scott Wilson – Matt Cullen – Phil Kessel
Patric Hornqvist – Nick Bonino – Chris Kunitz
Tom Kuhnhackl – Oskar Sundqvist – Carter Rowney
Brian Dumoulin – Justin Schultz
Chad Ruhwedel – Ian Cole
Mark Streit – Frank Corrado
* Lines subject to change
Buffalo Sabres – 30-31-12 – 72 Points
Home Record: 17-12-6
Hot Players: Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen
Key Injuries: Kyle Okposo, William Carrier, Dmitry Kulikov, Justin Falk, Taylor Fedun, Cody Franson and Johan Larsson
Tyler Ennis – Jack Eichel – Ryan O’Reilly
Justin Bailey – Sam Reinhart – Matt Moulson
Matt Moulson – Evan Rodrigues – Brian Gionta
Marcus Foligno – Zemgus Girgensons – Hudson Fasching
Rasmus Ristolainen – Josh Gorges
Casey Nelson – Jake McCabe
Zach Bogosian – Brady Austin
** Lines subject to change.
1) Matt Murray will get the start for the Penguins against the Sabres. He gave up three goals in one period of action against Buffalo this season in their meeting a few weeks ago. Murray has been solid all season though winning 27 games for Pittsburgh. It has not been confirmed, but Anders Nilsson would be the logical start for the Sabres tonight with Robin Lehner playing last night against the Red Wings. Dan Bylsma could decide to go back to Lehner with the team being off until Saturday.
2) Sidney Crosby is red hot coming into tonight’s game. He has five goals in his last two games and ten points in his last five. Crosby has jumped back to the top of the NHL point lead. The 29-year old also has a history of dominating the Sabres with 50 in points in 33 career games.
3) Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen come in as the hot players for the Sabres. Eichel has at least one point in 15 of his last 17 games. Ristolainen has three points in his last five games and has played over 25 minutes in those games and over 30 minutes in two.
4) The Sabres are 3-9-1 against the Penguins dating back to the 2012-13 season. The last regulation win against them came on Apr. 23rd, 2013 in a 4-2 win in Pittsburgh. The last regulation home win for the Sabres over the Penguins dates back to Feb. 19th, 2012.
5) Evan Rodrigues has been absolutely fantastic for the Sabres since being recalled. The 23-year old has fit in nicely as a bottom six center with the club and has been good playing a two-way game. He has five points in 21 games this season and is making the case down the final stretch to be in the conversation as the team’s fourth line center come next season.