Game 68: Sabres Vs. Penguins Preview
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking for a season sweep of the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night.
Tonight’s game will be the first of a three-game homestand for the Penguins after going 2-1-2 on a five-game road trip.
On Saturday, Dustin Jeffrey’s overtime goal against the Boston Bruins gave the Penguins a well-deserved two points in the standings.
The game also marked the fourth straight contest that had stretched beyond regulation. According to the Penguins’ official website, the franchise record for consecutive overtime games is five, which was set in March of 2007.
Pittsburgh has won five straight meetings against Buffalo, including the previous three games this season.
At home, the Penguins are 7-1-1 in their last nine games against the Sabres and are 14-4-1 overall since the 2006-07 season.
On Monday, head coach Dan Bylsma said that Chris Kunitz would be listed as probable for tonight’s game. Kunitz last dressed on Feb. 6, during a 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.
In 52 games this season, Kunitz has 18 goals and 18 assists.
The Sabres are led by sniper Thomas Vanek who has 23 goals and 32 assists this season. However, he only has one goal in his last 12 games. In addition to the lone goal over that stretch, he has added six assists.
Drew Stafford leads the team in goals with 26 and has four hat tricks in only 47 games. He has also scored a goal in two straight games and has points in five of his last six games.
In goal, Ryan Miller (28-18-7, 2.66 GAA, .914 save percentage) has continued to be a rock for the Sabres.
Miller has been a big reason the Sabres have climbed back into the playoff hunt. Since allowing seven goals on 26 shots against the New York Islanders on Feb. 13, Miller hasn’t surrendered more than three goals in a game and is 4-3-2 over that span.
Against the Penguins, Miller is 4-8-3 with a 3.26 GAA and .884 save percentage.
The Sabres currently hold a one-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Penguins hold a two-point edge over the Tampa Bay Lightning for the No. 4 seed and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Even more impressive, the Penguins are only two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference lead.
Philadelphia does have two games in hand, but have lost four in a row.
Should Kunitz return tonight, he’s had some success against the Sabres in his career. In 10 games, Kunitz has four goals and one assist.
Since coming back to Pittsburgh, Alex Kovalev only has one goal in five games. However, he has 27 goals and 26 assists in 82 career games against the Sabres.
In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury (29-16-5, 2.36 GAA, .918 save percentage) has been the biggest reason the Penguins have been able to earn points in the standings despite all the injuries to key players recently.
Fleury holds a 9-3-2 record with a 2.67 GAA and .907 save percentage against Buffalo in his career.
He holds one career shutout against Buffalo, which came on Nov. 24 when he made 30 saves in a 1-0 win.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Pittsburgh.