The Pittsburgh Penguins come home Saturday to face the Buffalo Sabres after a huge road win that underscored their trust in and admiration for team captain Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins (19-14-4) knocked off one of the top teams in the NHL on Thursday, winning a wild one 6-5 against the Boston Bruins on national TV. Crosby scored the winning goal, added two assists and gained attention for racing back in the final minute to negate an icing call – all in the few hours after he was named an All-Star for the sixth time.
Buffalo (16-19-4) also garnered a feel-good win Thursday, 6-1 at Montreal.
The game starts a little after 7 p.m.
The Penguins have won four of five and are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games, a stretch that has them knocking on the door of an Eastern Conference wildcard spot.
They have a power-play goal in three of their past four games, have their top six forwards intact after Bryan Rust returned from injury, and their penalty killing has snuffed 18 of 20 opposing power plays over the past eight games.
The Penguins are without their most physical defenseman, rookie John Ludvig, who is on LTIR, but they seem to have found a workable set of pairings with Ryan Graves moving down the third set and P.O Joseph moving up.
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Buffalo found its offense against the Canadiens, getting the six goals after totaling seven goals over its previous four games. Tage Thompson had two goals and an assist, Jeff Skinner a goal and three assists against Montreal.
The Sabres also were 2 for 4 on the power play on Thursday after going four games without a goal with the man-advantage.
And that’s without injured captain Kyle Okposo.
Buffalo practiced Friday in Pittsburgh without forwards Alex Tuch and Jordan Greenway because they were ill. However, they apparently played against Montreal while under the weather and so could well be available Saturday.
Expected Penguins Lines
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Bryan Rust
Drew O’Connor-Lars Eller-Valtteri Pusstinen
Jansen Harkins-Noel Acciari-Jeff Carter
Marcus Pettersson-Kris Letang
P.O Joseph-Erik Karlsson
Ryan Graves-Chad Ruhwedel
Expected Sabres Lines
Jeff Skinner-Tage Thompson-Alex Tuch
Jack Quinn-Dylan Cozens-JJ Peterka
Jordan Greenway-Casey Mittlestadt-Zach Benson
Zegmus Girgensons-Peyton Krebs-Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Dahlin-Henri Jokiharju
Mattias Samuelsson-Connor Clifton
Owen Power-Erik Johnson
Penguins Special Teams
Penguins power play: 14.4%, 26th
Penguins penalty kill: 82.6%, 10th
Sabres power play: 14.2%, 28th
Sabres penalty kill: 78.3%, 22nd
Penguins Game Notes
Each team has won at home this season, the Penguins 4-0 Nov. 22, and Buffalo 3-2 Nov. 24.
The Penguins are 11-4-1 in their past 16 games against the Sabres and have won three in a row at home against them.
Erik Karlsson’s 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) and Kris Letang’s 33 points (6 goals, 27 assists) against Buffalo rank first and second among active defensemen.
Sidney Crosby has surpassed the 40-point mark for the 18th time, one of 24 players to have done that. The only other active player on the list is Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
Drew O’Connor has five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in his past six games, has tied his single-season high of five goals and has reached a new high with 13 points.
The Penguins are averaging four goals over their past eight games (6-1-1).
Marcus Pettersson is scheduled to play in his 400th game.
How to Watch
TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh
Radio: 105.9 FM The X
Also visit sister site Buffalo Hockey Now