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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 seed.

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 night."

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


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