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Penguins vs. Sabres, Game 11: Lines, Notes & How to Watch

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, vs. Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO — The Pittsburgh Penguins have a pretty impressive streak of postseason appearances, qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of the past 16 seasons.

The Buffalo Sabres have a playoff streak of their own.

But for a very different reason.

Buffalo has not participated in the postseason since 2011 (and hasn’t won a round since 2007, which is when the Penguins’ run of playoff appearances started), but looks as if the Sabres might just escape that frustrating stretch in 2022-23.

Nearly a month into the season, the Sabres, who will face the Penguins Wednesday at 7:38 p.m. at KeyBank Center, are 6-3 and have stayed above .500 since their third game.

Remember that trip to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Washington that put the Penguins into a 0-4 nosedive before their 6-5, come-from-ahead loss to Boston in overtime at PPG Paints Arena Tuesday? Well, Buffalo took an identical one Oct. 18-25, and returned home with six of a possible eight points.

The Sabres have a defense that has been leaky at times — they are allowing an average of 2.78 goals, one of the highest figures in the league — but that’s been more than offset by an offense that’s generating 4.11 goals per game.

The Penguins’ rediscovered their offensive touch Tuesday night, generating five goals after scoring just one in each of the previous three games, and rank fourth in the league with an average of 3.70 per game.

Trouble is, they gave up six — including four unanswered after they’d built a 5-2 lead — in what became a 6-5 overtime loss to Boston at PPG Paints Arena.

That bloated their goals-against average per game to 3.50, tying Nashville for the ninth-highest figure in the NHL.

As the Penguins have sunk toward the bottom of the Metropolitan Division — Columbus is the only team below them now — the confidence that was so obvious in the early days of the season likely has plunged, as well.

Whether they can quickly shake off the effects of the Bruins’ comeback remains to be seen, but even if that isn’t a problem for them, simply dealing with the Sabres just might be.

Coach Don Granato has his players believing that they are capable of competing with any opponent, and the Sabres appear to be on the way to convincing a long-suffering fan base that the franchise’s darkest days might finally be behind it.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

Zucker-Malkin-Rakell

Heinen-O’Connor-Kapanen

McGinn-Poehling-Archibald

Defense:

Dumoulin-Petry

Pettersson-Rutta

Joseph-Ruhwedel

Goalies:

DeSmith

Jarry

Buffalo Sabres Lines, per CapFriendly.com:

Skinner-Thompson-Okposo

Quinn-Mittelstadt-Olofsson

Peterka-Cozens-Tuch

Girgensons-Krebs-Asplund

Defense:

Bryson-Dahlin

Clague-Power

Pilut-Fitzgerald

Goalies:

Comrie

Anderson

Special Teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins

Power play — 20.5% (8-39, 21st)

Penalty-kill — 70.6 percent (10-34, 28th)

Buffalo Sabres

Power play — 23.5% (8-24, 12th)

Penalty-kill — 79.3% (6-29, 17th)

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

The Penguins are 13-1-3 in their past 17 games in Buffalo and is 24-4-4 in their past 32 overall against the Sabres, but lost the season series in 2021-22.

Casey DeSmith is expected to be in goal for the Penguins. He has a career record of 3-1-2 against the Sabres, with a 1.81 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and three shutouts.

It is not known whether the Penguins will have top-pairing defenseman Kris Letang, who missed the Boston game because of illness. Coach Mike Sullivan is expected to divulge Letang’s status when he meets with reporters about two hours before the game.

Sidney Crosby probably won’t mind spending a little quality time with the Sabres. He has 25 goals and 52 assists in 53 career games against Buffalo, with at least one point in 46 of those games. Crosby is due to set up a goal; he doesn’t have an assist in the past four games, so he still needs one to become the 20th player in NHL history to record 900 in his career.

Crosby’s current right winger, Bryan Rust, hasn’t fared nearly as well against the Sabres. He has faced Buffalo 19 times, but scored just two goals.

This will be the Pittsburgh Penguins’ sixth consecutive game that involves playing on consecutive nights. They presumably will be happy to get back to a more conventional schedule, since they are 0-4-1 in the first five of these games.

Tage Thompson had three goals and three assists in the Sabres’ 8-3 victory over Detroit Monday, making him the first Buffalo player to get six points in a game since Pat LaFontaine did it on Feb. 10, 1993.

Buffalo is a subpar faceoff team, controlling just 47.8 percent of its draws. No Sabres forward who has taken more than 31 has been able to break even through the first nine games.

Four Sabres — wingers Alex Tuch, Victor Olofsson and Thompson and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin — are tied for the team lead with six goals each. Center Dylan Cozens, who has four, is the only other Buffalo player with more than two.

How to Watch:

TV: ATTN-PIT, TNT

Radio: 105.9 The X

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Vince Gori
Vince Gori
1 month ago

So is Ruhwedel OK? I saw him on his knees, I thought, in the Pens zone during the third period. He then struggled off, with the ref watching, and I thought left the ice. Someone complained about a high stick that I didn’t see. Was I imagining things?

Ujn Hunter
29 days ago
Reply to  Vince Gori

I think he’s hurt. Announcers last night (Buffalo game) mentioned Ruh out at either morning skate or warmups looked like he was struggling skating around.

Mary Jo Connors
Mary Jo Connors
1 month ago

He did leave due to an injury but I believe he returned for OT !?

maybeTROLLn
maybeTROLLn
1 month ago

O/u 1.5 goals for Tage T. the Penguins abuser?