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Calm Before the Storm: Penguins Game Notes, Scouts & Lines vs. Buffalo

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NHL Return to Play: Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena

The Pittsburgh Penguins will return home briefly as they face the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena, Saturday. The Penguins will complete a stretch that saw them have five out of their last six games at home. On their recent four-game homestand, Pittsburgh went 3-0-1 with a 15-6 goal differential with wins against Montreal, Detroit, and Toronto. Historically and recently the Penguins have played Buffalo well as they have points in 18 of its last 19 games against Buffalo dating back to October 5, 2013. During that span, the Penguins have outscored the Buffalo by a 72-35 margin. The lone regulation loss came earlier this year on opening night (3-1).

Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins.

Head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Brian Dumoulin and John Marino would make the coming road trip with the Penguins, too

Just two days removed from blowing out Toronto at home, it was the Penguins turn to be acquainted with the other side the bat. Despite a five-goal performance in the previous game, the Penguins could not find the back the net in a 4-0 shutout against Toronto, Thursday. The Penguins missed the opportunity to extend their lead in the Metropolitan division and were outshot, outperformed in the faceoff dot, and surrendered a power-play goal.

After a scoreless first period, Toronto enacted vengeance for the Penguins three-goal second in the previous game with one of their own. Former Penguins draftee Jake Muzzin opened the scoring with a goal 7:45 into the period. Muzzin wound up and fired a shot from the blue line that went off the post, giving Toronto a 1-0 lead. Toronto padded their lead a few minutes later as William Nylander found the net for his 27th of the year. Nylander took Auston Matthews’ pass after a face-off win and ripped it into the net to extend the lead. The Penguins pushed back in the period but could not stem the bleeding as Kasperi Kapanen scored his 12th to make it 3-0.

Similar to the team’s matchup on Tuesday, the third period proved uneventful, but Toronto did add on.  Zach Hyman corraled a rebound at the doorstep and put it into the net to increase Toronto’s lead to 4-0 to cap off the scoring. Matt Murray started for the penguins holding strong career numbers against Toronto, but his effort proved insufficient in the loss. Despite facing the most shots of the two goaltenders, Murray finished with 26 saves. Frederik Andersen earned the win by turning away all 24 shots he faced.

You can read more about the Penguins game against Toronto in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.

Buffalo scored the first two goals but surrendered seven overall in a 7-4 loss against Ottawa, Tuesday. Brandon Montour opened the scoring for Buffalo with two early first period goals but his effort remained canceled out by a five-goal explosion by Ottawa in the second half.  Jean-Gabriel Pageau led Ottawa with a four-point performance including two goals. Montour and Victor Olofsson each had three points for Buffalo. Craig Anderson surrendered four goals on 27 shots but still chalked up the win. Carter Hutton was tagged with the loss in a 31 save effort.

Notes

Captain Sidney Crosby is currently riding a seven-game point streak (5G-7A) versus Buffalo. He has recorded at least one point in36 of 40 career games played against them, while his 62 points (20G-42A) are the second-most he’s tallied against any non-Metropolitan Division opponent.

Sidney Crosby sits two assists away from 800 in his career, which would make him the 32nd player in NHL history to accomplish the feat and the second player along with Mario Lemieux to record all 800 assists in a Penguins sweater. Crosby would join Joe Thornton (1,088) as the only active players with 800 or more helpers. Speaking of Joe Thornton………

Saturday is the Penguins’ final game of an eight-game stretch all against Atlantic Division opponents. Thus far, the Penguins have picked up points in five of the seven games, going 4-2-1, while Kris Letang (3G-4A) has points in all but one of those games during this span.

Scouts

Injuries

Pittsburgh Penguins

Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle, Skating)

Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)

John Marino (Cheek, 3 to 6 weeks)

Zach Aston-Reese ( Lower body, week to week)

Buffalo Sabres

Matt Hunwick (Neck, Injured reserve)

Vladimir Sobotka (Knee, Injured reserve)

Tage Thompson (Shoulder, Injured reserve)

Linus Ullmark (Lower body,  Injured reserve)

Michael Frolik (Illness)

Special Teams

TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins20.3% (16th NHL)82.4% (7th NHL)
New Jersey Devils17.7% (22nd NHL)82.0% (10th NHL)

Penguins Lines

Expected Penguins Lines

LWCRW
Jason ZuckerSidney CrosbyConor Sheary
Patrick MarleauEvgeni MalkinBryan Rust
Evan RodriguesJared McCannPatric Hornqvist
Brandon TanevTeddy BluegerSam Lafferty
LDRD
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz
Goalie
Matt Murray
Tristan Jarry

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