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Game Preview: Buffalo Sabres @ Pittsburgh Penguins 1/6/2024 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens are back at PPG Paints and looking to make it two wins in a row.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Buffalo Sabres (16-19-4, 36 points, 7th place Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (19-14-4, 42 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: MSG Buffalo, Sportsnet Pittsburgh

Pens’ Path Ahead: After losing to the Caps, the Pens have another chance to grab a pair of all-important division points against the Flyers in Philadelphia Monday. Next up are two tough opponents three days, starting with a Thursday home game against the Vancouver Canucks and followed by Saturday trip to meet the Hurricanes in Carolina.

Opponent Track: The Sabres are looking for some consistency after alternating between wins and losses for the past month. Most recently they claimed a 6-1 victory on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens, although two of those six goals came in the final minutes and one was an empty-netter.

Season Series: The Pens and Sabres have split this season series so far, with the Penguins taking a 4-0 shutout win at home on Nov. 11 before losing 3-2 in Buffalo on Nov. 24.

Hidden Stat: The Sabres have only won consecutive games once this season, and that was back on November 1.

Getting to know the Sabres

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Jack Quinn - Dylan Cozens - John-Jason Peterka

Jordan Greenway - Casey Mittelstadt - Zach Benson

Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Victor Olofsson

DEFENSEMEN

Rasmus Dahlin / Henri Jokiharju

Mattias Samuelsson / Connor Clifton

Owen Power / Erik Johnson

Goalies: Devon Levi, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Possible scratches: Eric Robinson, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Johnson

  • The Sabres’ “kid line” (JJ Peterka, Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn) and the top line centered by Alex Tuch were the biggest threats at even strength during Thursday’s win over the Canadiens.
  • Winger Eric Robinson, a midseason acquisition from the Columbus Blue Jackets, has been in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

  • Rasmus Dahlin was named to his third straight All-Star appearance earlier this week. The defenseman joins Jack Eichel and Gilbert Perreault as the third player in franchise history to achieve the feat at 23 years old.
  • Casey Mittelstadt has made his own case for an All-Star bid. He has recorded points in 23 games so far this season, and can generally be expected to be the Sabres’ most consistent skater on any given night.
  • Rookie goaltender Devon Levi and 24-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen have been for the most part splitting the rotation in Buffalo this season. Luukkonen last started on Dec. 30 and may be due for his next appearance.

Special teams struggles

The good news for the Sabres power play: it scored two goals against the Habs in Thursday’s win. The bad news: that doesn’t usually happen.

The Sabres power play (14.2 percent success rate, No. 27 in the NHL) has been as big as big of a problem in Buffalo as it has been in Pittsburgh. The penalty kill (78.3 success rate, No. 22 in the NHL) isn’t winning any awards either.

Defenseman Erik Johnson called special teams the Sabres’ “Achilles heel” following a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins last week, per Sabres.com’s Jourdan LaBarber. The Sabres could not hold back the Bruins power play, which scored three times during the loss.

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Drew O’Connor - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen

Jansen Harkins - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang

P.O. Joseph / Erik Karlsson

Ryan Graves / Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies: Tristan Jarry, Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: Radim Zohorna, Ryan Shea

IR: Matt Nieto (recovering from knee surgery), John Ludvig (upper body injury)

  • The Penguins were off Friday. They’ll return today for a 10:30 a.m. morning skate, according to DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Taylor Haase.
  • Streak watch: Sidney Crosby has two multi-point games in a row following Thursday’s win over the Bruins. It also marked his 173rd three-point game, passing Steve Yzerman for the seventh-most in NHL history, per Pens PR.