The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-13-3) have won four of the last five games and have points in five straight. They charged up the East Division standings to second place and now trail the Washington Capitals by only three points for first. The Penguins game remains consistent as they finish their two-game-set against the Buffalo Sabres (11-26-7) Sunday at 3 p.m. at Key Bank Arena.
The Penguins dominated Buffalo for most of the game but didn’t finish off Buffalo, which rallied. The Penguins held on for a 3-2 regulation win, but Sam Reinhart hit the post with less than two minutes remaining on what would have been the tying goal.
Evan Rodrigues, Jared McCann, and Bryan Rust lit the lamp for the Penguins on Saturday, and with an assist, Sidney Crosby earned his 50th point.
The team fired 41 shots on Buffalo goalie Dustin Tokarski and had 17 scoring chances.
For a journeyman goalie, Tokarski has been outstanding this season. His record doesn’t reflect it, 1-5-2, but Tokarski has a .910 save percentage and should earn an NHL job for next season.
In fact, many of the Sabres are earning jobs for next season under interim head coach Don Granato.
The Penguins will start Casey DeSmith in net. DeSmith has held up his end of the goalie-tandem bargain. His record is 10-5-0 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA.
The Penguins playoff picture is slowly moving towards being official. The New York Rangers are also charging. Fifth-place New York has won three in a row and remains nine points behind the Penguins and just four points behind Boston for fourth place.
The Penguins’ magic points number is still 15 before they would eliminate New York.
Before the game, the Penguins activated defenseman Mark Friedman from the IR and recalled Anthony Angello from the taxi squad.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Anders Bjork||Sam Reinhart||Victor Olafsson|
|Rasmus Asplund||Casey Mittelstadt||Tage Thompson|
|Arttu Ruotsalainen||Riley Sheahan||Dylan Cozens|
|Jeff SKinner||Cody Eakin||Drake Caggiula|
|Rasmus Dahlin||Henri Jokiharju|
|Mattias Samuelsson||Rasmus Ristolainen|
|Jacob Bryson||Colin Miller|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
F Evgeni Malkin (15 consecutive, 15 total)
F Kasperi Kapanen (11 consecutive, 11 total)
F Brandon Tanev (6 consecutive, 12 total)
F Frederick Gaudreau (2 consecutive, 2 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 232
*The Penguins are 16-3-1 when leading after the first period.
*The last ten meetings between the Sabres and Penguins have been won by the team who scored first.
*Casey Mittelstadt has totaled nine points (7+2) in his last ten games
*The Penguins have points in 24 of its last 26 games against Buffalo (21-2-3) dating back to October 5, 2013.
*The Penguins have an active 15-game point streak versus the Sabres in Buffalo (13-0-2).
*The Penguins are 10-2-1 in back-to-backs (7-0-0 the first night; 3-2-1 the second night).
*Jake Guentzel leads all NHL players with 14 goals on the road.
*In four career starts against Buffalo, DeSmith is 3-0-1 with a 1.25 goals-against average, .960 save percentage, and three shutouts. He has not allowed a goal versus the Sabres in his last 179:52.
*Three of DeSmith’s six career shutouts have come against the Sabres, including both of his starts against Buffalo this season.
*Jared McCann is two goals short of tying his career-high set last season. In 2019-20, McCann
played in 66 games, while this season his 12 goals have come in 31 games.
How to Watch, 3 p.m.:
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 The X