Who: Buffalo Sabers (6-21-4, 16 points, eighth place in the East Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (20-11-2, 42 points, 3rd place in the East Division)
When: 7:00 pm east
How to watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, MSG-B in visitor feed
Opponent’s track: Make it 15 straight losses for the Sabers after their 5-2 loss to the Pens last night.
Pens way ahead: After tonight, Pittsburgh hosts the Islanders on Saturday and next Monday (3/29). Then next week, the Pens hit the road to play Boston next Thursday (4/1) and the following Saturday (4/3).
Season series: Pittsburgh is up 3-0 over Sabers this season, beating them at Buffalo 5-2 on March 11 and then 3-0 on March 13, followed by last night’s 5-2 win. The Pens return to Buffalo on April 17 + 18 in another b-2-b set. Then, to top it all, the last two games of the season, May 6 + 8, will be in Pittsburgh, in what could be two games the Pens can rest their players.
Recent history: Pens have been good for a while and Sabers haven’t. Their confrontations reflect that. Pittsburgh has points in 22 of its last 24 games against Buffalo (19-2-3) since October 5, 2013. During that span, the Penguins have outscored the Sabers by a 91-48 margin.
SBN team counterpart: Check out Die by the Blade for the latest news on the Sabers.
Player stats at a glance
—Once again my game preview theory about teams that have to use more than 3 goalkeepers that don’t usually get it right …
Taylor Hall – Dylan Cozens – Sam Reinhart
Jeff Skinner – Curtis Lazar – Casey Mittlestadt
Victor Olofsson – Eric Staal – Matt Irwin
Rasmus Asplund – Cody Eakin – Riley Sheahan
Jacob Bryson / Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin / Colin Miller
Henri Jokiharju / Brandon Montour
Starting goalkeeper announced 😕
Scratches: Tobias Rieder (injured), Carter Hutton, Kyle Okposo (injured)
TO GO: Jack Eichel, Linus Ullmark, Zemgus Girgensons, Jake McCabe, William Borgn
“Yeah, because of Tage Thompson’s illness, the Sabers used defender Matt Irwin as a third-row right winger.” To steal the classic Slapshot line, Eric Staal must be thinking “trade me right f @% king now.”
“Asplund left the game early last night, so we’ll see if he’s available tonight or if Thompson isn’t sick anymore.” With Okposo and Rieder also suffering injuries, one of Buffalo’s many problems right now is that they don’t have enough healthy forwards to play.
“It’s worth seeing if Ullmark can come back from his injury tonight.” He is a good goalkeeper. The Sabers need something, anything. Getting your headline back could be the first step to finally getting out of your lost ways.
Buffalo sets a franchise record (not good)
The fifteenth loss in a row last night set a new Sabers record. It is not the kind of record that everyone wants to set. From Lance Lykowski at Buffalo News:
None of interim coach Don Granato’s strategic changes could help the Sabers avoid the dubious distinction of having the longest winless streak in the franchise’s 51-year history.
The Sabers lost their 15th straight game Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena as a group of ten forwards with few players failed to match the speed and tenacity of the Pittsburgh Penguins led by Sidney Crosby in a 5-2 loss.
Buffalo (6-21-4) remains last in the National Hockey League, with just 16 points in 31 games, 20 points out of fourth place in the East Division playoffs, and just 25 games away from a playoff drought of 10 years. which would equal the longest in league history.
And now for the pens …
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese, Jared McCann, Kasperi Kapanen?
Evan Rodrigues – Mark Jankowski – Sam Lafferty
Colton Sceviour – Frederick Gaudreau – Anthony Angello
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Possible starting goalkeeper: Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Brandon Tanev, Radim Zohorna
TO GO: Evgeni Malkin, Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman and Teddy Blueger
Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Maxime Lagace, Justin Almeida, Sam Miletic
“We’ll see Kapanen’s condition after he left the game injured last night.” If he can’t play, it might be NHL debut time for Zohorna or Miletic.