The Pittsburgh Penguins (27-13-3) game against and Buffalo Sabres will be unique. The teams will co-host and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community on Saturday with a Pride Game at Key Bank Arena at 3 p.m. The Penguins can claim second place in the East Division with a win, but Buffalo has played much better since their recent 18-game winless streak.
Buffalo has been playing better and faster.
“I think speed is a great asset for them, and I think that’s something we got to watch out for. I think their system game is really good,” Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson said of Buffalo under interim coach Don Granato. “When they create turnovers at their own blue line, they like to the translation really quick, and that’s kind of a staple of their team.”
Buffalo is 2-0-1 in their last three games, including a surprising 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
The Penguins were a little rusty and admittedly not sharp on Thursday after their first three-day layoff since January. Head coach Mike Sullivan said the coaching staff was concerned about the effects of the layoff but seemed otherwise tolerant of the Penguins’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Our coaching staff was a little bit concerned about that. We do think in the big picture, it’s really good for our team to give our guys an opportunity to recover,” Sullivan said.
Tristan Jarry will start in goal for the Penguins. Dustin Tokarski is the likely starter for the Buffalo Sabres.
Expected Penguins Lines & Special Teams
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
|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||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
What to Watch
Can and will the Pittsburgh Penguins put away the Buffalo Sabres? Buffalo is playing loose and free. There’s no pressure for Buffalo, and things have been so dark, their recent success, albeit moderate, has been a rising tide.
It should be a speed game with similar styles. The depleted Penguins lineup is still a bit more talented than Buffalo, especially as Buffalo traded away Taylor Hall on Monday. Buffalo also traded defenseman Brandon Montour, who roughed up Sidney Crosby in their previous two meetings.
Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen also dished a few bone-crunching hits.
The Penguins will need to be sharper than they were on Thursday. More tape-to-tape passes, but also more aggression near the net in the offensive zone.
This could be a fun game to watch as the speed level hits the red lines and the physicality follows.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
INJURIES Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
D Mark Friedman (21 consecutive, 21 total)
F Evgeni Malkin (14 consecutive, 14 total)
F Kasperi Kapanen (10 consecutive, 10 total)
F Brandon Tanev (5 consecutive, 11 total)
F Frederick Gaudreau (1 consecutive, 1 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 227
Mike Sullivan updated the Penguins injury and rehab progress on Friday.
*The Penguins have points in 23 of its last 25 games against Buffalo (20-2-3) dating back to Oct. 5, 2013. During that span, the Penguins have outscored the Sabres by a 95-46 margin.
*The Penguins have an active 14-game point streak versus the Sabres in Buffalo (12-0-2).
*The Penguins and Buffalo play back-to-back games. This season, the Penguins are 9-2-1 in back-to-backs (6-0-0 the first night; 3-2-1 the second night)
*Tristan Jarry is 9-1-2 in his last 13 games with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
*Jake Guentzel is tied with Arizona’s Phil Kessel for the most third period goals (11) in the NHL.
*Sidney Crosby ranks second in the East Division with 49 points (17g, 32a). Boston’s Brad Marchand has 50 points.
*Brian Dumoulin has a career-high six-game points streak (2g, 4a).
How to Watch, 3 p.m.:
Radio: 105.9 The X