NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 8th
(All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (32-25-8) at Pittsburgh Penguins (38-21-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will try to extend their point streak
with a third straight victory when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight
at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Sabres have gained a point in seven straight games (5-0-2) and they are
3-0-1 so far on a seven-game road trip -- Buffalo's longest trek of the year.
Buffalo's point run has helped it grab the eighth and final playoff seed in
the Eastern Conference for the time being. With 72 points, the Sabres are just
one ahead of idle Carolina for the East's final postseason berth.
The Penguins, meanwhile, have earned a point in four straight games (2-0-2)
and could have a chance at forging a tie atop the Atlantic Division this
evening. Pittsburgh's 84 points has the club just two behind Philadelphia, but
the Flyers, who are hosting Edmonton tonight, are holding two games in hand
over the Penguins.
Pittsburgh is also two points in front of Tampa Bay for the East's fourth
The Penguins have won all three meetings against the Sabres this year and can
complete a sweep of the season series tonight. Pittsburgh has taken five
straight and seven out of eight overall against Buffalo. The Sabres have lost
three in a row and six of their last seven games in the Steel City.
Buffalo recorded a dramatic victory in its last trip to the ice, as Drew
Stafford scored just 46 seconds into overtime to lift the Sabres to Sunday's
3-2 road win over the Minnesota Wild. In the extra session, Stafford skated
into the Minnesota end, cut to the front of the net and stuffed it past the
left side of Jose Theodore for the win.
"It feels pretty good, but we're not done yet," said Stafford. "We're not
going to stop. We know how we can play and we're going to keep going out every
Rob Niedermayer scored his first goal of the season and Jason Pominville also
lit the lamp for the Sabres. Jhonas Enroth made 24 saves to earn the win in
his first start since Feb. 15.
Buffalo's No. 1 netminder Ryan Miller will be back in net tonight for the
Sabres, but last year's Vezina Trophy winner is just 4-8-3 with a 3.26 goals-
against average in his career against Pittsburgh.
Mike Grier (lower body) and Jochen Hecht (upper body) are questionable for
tonight's game, while fellow forward Patrick Kaleta is expected to miss the
contest with a bone bruise in his left knee.
The Sabres have recalled Mark Parrish from their AHL affiliate in Portland and
the veteran forward could play tonight. Parrish signed as a free agent with
Buffalo in October after an invitation to training camp.
The 34-year-old has 35 points in 42 games for Portland this season and has
four goals with 11 assists in last 13 games. He has 216 goals and 387 points
in 720 NHL games.
Pittsburgh earned an overtime victory in its last game, as Dustin Jeffrey's
second goal of the contest came at 1:52 of the extra session and lifted the
Pens to the 3-2 road victory over Boston. Jeffrey's game-winner also ended
snapped the Bruins' winning streak at seven games.
Jeffrey streaked down the right side, cut to the middle and beat Tim Thomas
with a forehand shot inside the left post to end the contest.
Jordan Staal also tallied for the Penguins, who had dropped six of seven
coming into Saturday's game at Boston. Marc-Andre Fleury halted 29-of-31 shots
for the win.
"I just think it shows our team character," Jeffrey said about his club's
resilience without captain Sidney Crosby or forward Evgeni Malkin. "Obviously
there have been losses but we're getting points for overtime losses and we're
keeping pace. Now we're two points behind the conference leader."
Tonight's tilt marks the first of three straight on home ice for the Pens, who
have lost their last two games as the host but are sporting a solid 20-11-2
record in the inaugural season at CONSOL Energy Center.
Although Malkin is out for the season and Crosby is still sidelined
indefinitely with a concussion, the Pens could get some offense back tonight
with the possible return of Chris Kunitz. The forward has missed the last 13
games with a lower-body injury, but has been participating in full practices
and is questionable for this evening's test.
Kunitz has 18 goals and 18 assists in 52 games this season.
03/08 11:06:03 ET