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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, December 16th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (20-10-1) at Pittsburgh Penguins (8-17-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Michel Therrien debuts behind the Pittsburgh bench tonight when the Penguins host the red-hot Buffalo Sabres at Mellon Arena to begin a home-and-home.

Therrien was given the job on Thursday, as Ed Olczyk was relieved of his duties. Therrien, who was the coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, brought assistant coach Mike Yeo, strength and conditioning coach Stephane Dube and goaltending consultant Gilles Lefebvre with him to the Steel City from the AHL.

The Pens have lost two straight, and eight of their last nine games. On Tuesday they dropped a 3-0 contest to lowly St. Louis. Curtis Sanford made 21 saves for his third career shutout to back the Blues.

Marc-Andre Fleury allowed two goals on 41 shots for the Penguins, who were shut out for the third time this season.

The Penguins should receive a boost tonight, as captain Mario Lemieux is expected to return to the lineup after missing four games due to an irregular heartbeat. Lemieux was hospitalized and diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, but has been placed on medication to control it.

The Pens, who are 4-8-3 on home ice, will visit Buffalo on Saturday to complete this set.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has won four straight games. On Wednesday, Derek Roy had a goal and an assist and Martin Biron made 32 saves for his 11th straight win as the Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars, 4-3, at HSBC Arena.

Thomas Vanek, Maxim Afinogenov and Daniel Briere also notched goals and Ales Kotalik had two assists for Buffalo, which has won nine of its last 10 contests overall.

Should Biron post a victory tonight, he would be the first goaltender to win 12 straight starts since Martin Brodeur in 1997-98.

Buffalo has won its last seven road games, the most since winning five straight from January 13-30, 1990.

The Sabres are 2-0 against the Pens this season, and 3-0-1 in the last four meetings.

12/16 10:13:45 ET

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