When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, MSG-B on the visiting feed
Opponent Track: Make it 15 losses in a row for the Sabres after their 5-2 defeat to the Pens last night.
Pens path 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 on Sabres this season, beating them in Buffalo 5-2 on March 11th and then 3-0 on March 13th, 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 cap it off, the final two games of the season on May 6+8 will be in Pittsburgh — in what very well could be two games the Pens can rest their players.
Recent History: The Pens have been good for a while, and the Sabres have not. Their matchups reflect that. Pittsburgh has points in 22 of its last 24 games against Buffalo (19-2-3) dating back to October 5, 2013. During that span, the Penguins have outscored the Sabres by a 91-48 margin.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Die by the Blade for the latest news to know about the Sabres.
Player Stats at a Glance
—Again, my game preview theory about teams that have to use 3+ goalies not usually having things going there way...It holds.
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
Announced starting goalie: ?
Scratches: Tobias Rieder (injured), Carter Hutton, Kyle Okposo (injured)
IR: Jack Eichel, Linus Ullmark, Zemgus Girgensons, Jake McCabe, William Borgn
—Yep, due to an illness scratch to Tage Thompson, the Sabres used defenseman Matt Irwin as a third line right winger. To steal the classic line from Slapshot, 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 any longer. With Okposo and Rieder also nursing injuries, one of Buffalo’s many issues right now is that they don’t have enough healthy forwards to play.
—It will be worth watching to see if Ullmark can make his return from injury tonight. He’s a good goalie. The Sabres need something, anything. Getting their starter back might be step 1 in finally getting out of their losing ways.
Buffalo sets a (not good) franchise record
The 15th straight loss last night set a new Sabres record. It’s not the type of record that anyone wants to set. From Lance Lykowski at Buffalo News:
None of interim coach Don Granato’s strategic changes could help the Sabres avoid the dubious distinction of holding the longest winless streak in the 51-year history of the franchise.
The Sabres dropped their 15th consecutive game Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena, as a shorthanded group of 10 forwards failed to match the speed and tenacity of the Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-2 loss.
Buffalo (6-21-4) remains last in the National Hockey League, with only 16 points through 31 games – 20 points out of the East Division’s fourth playoff spot – and it is only 25 games away from a 10-year playoff drought, which would match 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 goalie: Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Brandon Tanev, Radim Zohorna
IR: Evgeni Malkin, Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman, Teddy Blueger
Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Maxime Lagace, Justin Almeida, Sam Miletic
—We’ll see the status of Kapanen after he left the game injured last night. If he can’t play, it might be time for an NHL debut for Zohorna or Miletic.