NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, March 12th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (32-27-11) at Pittsburgh Penguins (39-24-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The sliding Buffalo Sabres will try to get back on the path to the postseason tonight, when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a battle at Mellon Arena.
The Sabres come into tonight as the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and are four points behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final postseason berth. Buffalo had pulled within one point of the Flyers with a win in Philly on March 4, but has since dropped three consecutive games.
Buffalo was handed its most recent setback in a close game against the visiting New York Rangers. Scott Gomez netted the deciding shootout tally to lead the Blueshirts to a 3-2 decision at HSBC Arena.
Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist for Buffalo, which has also dropped five of six and seven of its last nine contests. Ryan Miller made 23 saves in a losing effort.
New York's Brendan Shanahan and Pominville exchanged goals in the shootout, leaving Gomez with a chance to end it with a marker in the third round. He took advantage, slipping a forehand between the post and Miller's skate for the win.
Buffalo forward Andrew Peters will sit out tonight while serving a one-game suspension for an altercation with New York's Colton Orr on Monday. Peters was on the bench when he threw several punches at Orr at the end of the third period.
The Sabres are 15-14-6 as the visiting team this year, but have won two of three and four of their last six road tests.
Pittsburgh has 85 points is tied for fourth in the East with Ottawa. The Pens also trail New Jersey by one point for first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the East. The Devils are idle tonight after losing the No. 1 seed in the conference to Montreal, which beat Jersey on Tuesday. The Canadiens lead the East with 87 points and the Penguins can draw even for the conference lead with a win tonight.
The Penguins have won three of their last four games and are coming off Sunday's win in Washington. Sidney Crosby scored two goals, including the game-winner with 28.3 seconds left in the third period, as Pittsburgh defeated the Capitals, 4-2, at the Verizon Center.
With the Penguins putting on the heavy offensive pressure in the final minute of play, Hal Gill's shot from the middle point went wide, but Crosby directed the puck toward the net and Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, who was standing in the goal crease, put the disc into his own net to give the Pens a 3-2 lead.
Washington then pulled Cristobal Huet in favor of the extra attacker, but couldn't get the equalizer and Jordan Staal's empty-net tally with 13 ticks left accounted for the final margin.
Petr Sykora also tallied, while Evgeni Malkin chipped in with three assists for the Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury was solid, stopping 36-of-38 shots for Pittsburgh.
Beginning with tonight's test, the Penguins are playing two straight and four of their next five games on home ice. Pittsburgh is 19-10-5 as the host, but has dropped two of three and three of its last five tilts at the Igloo.
Pittsburgh is 3-0 against the Sabres this season and has taken five of the last six encounters between the clubs. Buffalo has also been defeated in two of three trips to the Steel City.
03/12 10:48:48 ET