When: 1:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, MSG-B in New York
Opponent Track: The Sabres are actually 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, they won three games last week to look like a last gasp charge but they followed that up by losing 7-4 to Ottawa. And, as usual they’ve slumped away in the second half of the season. Their 10-11-1 record since Christmas ranks just 27th in the league, so their playoff drought will almost certainly continue for another year.
Pens path ahead: The Pens jump down to DC for a first-place showdown tomorrow afternoon with the Capitals. Then it’s time for sunny days and the last far road trip to California to play the trio of under-performing Cali teams of Los Angeles (Wednesday), Anaheim (Friday) and San Jose (next Saturday).
Recent History: In the history of PPG Paints Arena the Pens are 11-4-1 against Buffalo. Overall the Pens are 15-1-3 vs Buffalo in the last 19 times the teams have met regardless of venue, dating back to the start of the 2013-14 season.
Season Series: But that one regulation loss mentioned above in the 15-1-3 stretch came this season and the last time these teams met. Buffalo came to Pittsburgh and won 3-1 on opening night all the way back on October 3rd. 59 games later, they finally meet again. The Pens go to Buffalo on March 5th for their only trip of the season up their to wrap up the PIT/BUF games in 2019-20.
SBN Team Counterpart: Our friends at Die by the Blade will help you live with the knowledge of about Buffalo hockey.
Player Stats at a Glance
—Eichel, in his fifth NHL season at still just 23 years old, is clearly the player to watch. He’s already set his single-season goal career-high, and is just five points away from matching his best career point total. He’s very good. That’s a lot more than you can say for the rest of the team.
—With Ullmark now IR, the other two goalies, woof. After going 6-1-1 with a .926 save% in October, Hutton is just 5-9-3 with a %.879 in 18 games since the first month. He is 5-2-0 in the month of February so he’s pulled the nose up a bit but was just awful from November - January with a 0-7-3 record.
Possible Lines (based on Friday practice)
Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Jimmy Vesey - Marcus Johansson - Conor Sheary
Jeff Skinner - Curtis Lazar - Michael Frolik
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Brandon Montour / Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe / Henrik Jokiharju
Rasmus Dahlin / Colin Miller
Expected starting goalie: Carter Hutton
Expected Scratches: Evan Rodrigues, John Gilmour
Injured Reserve: Linus Ullmark, Matt Hunwick, Tage Thompson
—One player no longer with Buffalo is Zach Bogosian who was waived, went unclaimed, assigned to AHL, refused to report and will now have his contract terminated. It’s the end of that era for team and player that started in 2015.
—The Sabres have had a couple of injuries but welcomed three forwards back to practice yesterday who all figure to be fit to play in this one.
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Friday practice/projection)
Jason Zucker - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Dominik Kahun - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Jared McCann- Andrew Agozzino -Patric Hornqvist
Brandon Tanev - Teddy Blueger - Sam Lafferty
Jack Johnson/ Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Justin Schultz
Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Expected scratches: Zach Aston-Reese (lower body injury), Anthony Angello (healthy), Zach Trotman (healthy)
Injured Reserve: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery)
—Kahun missed Friday practice and is officially a game time decision after blocking a shot in the knee area last game, but being as the lines weren’t jumbled in practice yesterday, we’ll assume he’ll be able to answer the bell.
—The goalie rotation means that it’s Jarry today, which would leave Murray on the second half of the back-to-back for the Caps tomorrow. Murray did play very well a couple of weeks ago in Washington’s building, so I guess at this point they’ll hope he can bounce back at that point.
Mello Yello like Cole Trickle
As with all weekend home games this season, the Penguins will be wearing their yellow third jerseys today. Pittsburgh is 7-2-1 in its yellow thirds this year, and are 17-4-1 all-time since this design has been re-introduced. That’s a 130 point full-season pace if they could wear the yellow jerseys every single game. That would be a record! Counting today, the Pens have five more games this season wearing their alternate jerseys this season. Perhaps they should petition the NHL for home playoff jerseys, no?
Let the big dogs eat
Buffalo is bad. They’ve been bad for a long time. These are the games where Crosby and Malkin feast. And per this stat from the Pens’ PR team, that’s exactly what they’ve done against the Sabres lately:
Captain Sidney Crosby is currently riding a seven-game point streak (5G+7A) versus Buffalo. He has recorded at least one point in 36 of 40 career games played against them, while his 62 points (20G+42A) are the second-most he’s tallied against any non-Metropolitan Division opponent.
Evgeni Malkin has points in 10-consecutive games against Buffalo (4G+10A), and has 51 points (16G+35A) in 40 career games overall.