NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 19th (All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (24-10-1) at Buffalo Sabres (21-10-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference square off tonight, as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Buffalo Sabres and HSBC Arena.
The Penguins come into this contest tied with New Jersey for both the lead in the NHL and Atlantic Division with 49 points, while Buffalo is third in the conference and tops in the Northeast Division with 44 points.
These two clubs split four meetings last year, but the Penguins have taken eight of the last 11 in the series and four of the last five matchups at Buffalo. That includes a 4-3 overtime triumph at HSBC Arena in the last meeting on December 22, 2008 in which Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner just 43 seconds into the extra frame.
Crosby has seven goals and 10 assists in 14 career games versus the Sabres and comes into this game with 10 goals and 17 points in the last eight games he has played in. He scored once and added a shootout tally in Thursday night's 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.
"This is always a building where we always have to be ready to play in," said Crosby, who is second in the NHL with 22 goals. "Tonight was a really tough game, both teams competed well. I think the ending was fitting, that it came down to a shootout."
Bill Guerin also scored in regulation and Kris Letang added a shootout marker for the Penguins, who swept a home-and-home set with the Flyers and have won four straight overall. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and stopped a pair of skaters in the shootout.
Surging Pittsburgh improved to 5-0 in shootouts this year and is 12-3-1 since a season-high four-game slide from November 5-12. The Pens have also won three straight on the road, where they are 12-5-0 this season.
Buffalo was in action on Friday night, when it posted a 5-2 triumph over Toronto. Derek Roy, Toni Lydman, Mike Grier and Matt Ellis all scored second- period goals, while Thomas Vanek netted a goal in the final frame.
Ryan Miller made 40 saves to lift the Sabres to their fifth win in six games and third straight at home.
"[Miller] deserves a lot of the credit, he really held us in there the first 20 [minutes]," Grier said. "I think once guys got in [the locker room] and settled down we got after it more."
Buffalo, which improved to 12-5-2 at home, had forward Paul Gaustad back in the lineup after he missed the previous 10 games with a leg injury. Patrick Kaleta (head) and Nathan Gerbe (groin) remain out.
12/19 10:33:43 ET