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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, February 17th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (32-21-5) at Buffalo Sabres (28-22-8), 6 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins make their second visit to the city of Buffalo this season, but this upcoming matchup with the Sabres will take place under more traditional surroundings.

The most recent encounter between these teams took place on New Year's Day and was the first NHL game ever played outdoors in the United States. The Penguins won the memorable occasion by a 2-1 score when second-year phenom Sidney Crosby slipped the puck past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in the final round of a shootout.

The game, dubbed "The Winter Classic", was played in front of a league-record 71,217 fans at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. Snow fell throughout much of the contest and the temperature dropped below 30 degrees during the contest's late stages.

Crosby won't be around for the rematch, as the superstar center is still mending from a high ankle sprain that has kept him out of action since January 18. The Penguins have gone 6-4-2 without Crosby but could have used his talents as of late, since the club has mustered only three goals in back-to- back losses to Boston and Carolina.

After falling 2-1 at home to the Bruins on Wednesday, Pittsburgh yielded a pair of third-period goals that were the difference in Thursday's 4-2 setback to the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

Dany Sabourin was solid in goal for the Penguins despite the loss, recording 42 saves on the evening. Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik had the goals for Pittsburgh.

Malkin has helped offset the loss of Crosby with a torrid stretch during the month of February. The Russian sensation has racked up 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in seven games during the month and notched at least one point in each of those outings.

Since the Winter Classic, Malkin has amassed 18 goals and 16 assists in 20 games and registered a point in all but two of those contests.

Pittsburgh will also be attempting to snap a three-game road losing streak and brings a 15-11-2 season mark as the visitor into HSBC Arena.

The Sabres had vaulted back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference by posting an 8-0-2 record over a 10-game stretch coming into Saturday's tussle with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. However, Buffalo was cooled down by the Blueshirts, who notched four goals over the first 12 1/2 minutes of play en route to a 5-1 rout.

Miller was yanked after the last of that four-goal barrage and stopped just 7- of-11 shots before exiting. The usually steady netminder had gone 5-0-1 with a 1.76 goals against average in seven February starts prior to yesterday's rough outing.

Thomas Vanek prevented the Sabres from being shut out when he scored on the power play with 6:58 remaining.

Pittsburgh has won four of its last five games against Buffalo, including each of the two encounters that took place earlier this season.

02/17 10:20:06 ET


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