Pittsburgh Penguins Welcome Buffalo Sabres

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Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins welcome the Buffalo Sabres to CONSOL Energy Center. Though the Sabres linger at the bottom of the standings, they cannot be overlooked.

This evening the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres meet for the third and final time this season. The Penguins have come away with wins in each of the previous meetings. Two points are two points regardless of how they are won, but the Penguins managed only narrow margins of victories, taking both matchups 4-3.

Despite the Sabres’ lowly standings they are a team that cannot be overlooked. While the Penguins may be tempted to look through them toward the next divisional tussle, this game is just as important as any other.

The Penguins have, in the past, been prone to placing little value on games against weaker teams. When that happens and they lose their drive, they lose the games.

Hopefully, they will avoid that tonight.

Pittsburgh outscored their opponents 10-4 in their last two games and are on an offensive hot streak. Sidney Crosby has been one of the biggest threats in the NHL for the month of March, putting up 19 points. Crosby also has three points against the Sabres this year, tied for the most on the Penguins.

Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist also have three points apiece when facing off against Buffalo this season. Letang, one of the most offensive defensemen in the league, has been putting up impressive points lately: look to him to contribute more tonight.

Hornqvist has been struggling more lately, but his netfront presence will surely frustrate the Sabres’ goaltenders.

Another player to watch is Phil Kessel. Kessel is absolutely on fire, picking up seven points in the last two games. He has two points against the Sabres this year and has seen plenty of them over the years as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. That experience could prove to be the difference-maker tonight.

Former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is the Sabres’ current bench boss, and Crosby insinuated that that familiarity will work in the Penguins’ favor tonight. Bylsma never put much emphasis on a hard-hitting team when he was in Pittsburgh, a fact that current head coach Mike Sullivan has worked hard to rectify.

A physical, explosive Penguins team can beat the best of them – and the Sabres are far from the best. The Penguins boast an eight-game winning streak against them, with captain Crosby majorly contributing to the tune of 48 points in 30 career competitions.

If the Penguins continue to play the way they have been lately, this game should not be an obstacle. However, they have to make sure to keep the mindset that has been so successful.

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The Sabres have a record of 5-4-1 in their last ten games despite the play of rookie phenoms Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Eichel leads the Sabres in goals while Reinhart has 11 points in his last 11 games. Recent signee Hudson Fasching, another highly touted prospect, scored in his NHL debut and can only help the team’s youth movement.

The Sabres’ offensive core has no shortage of weapons, including veteran Ryan O’Reilly. Still, they have found it difficult to cash in.

Rookie goaltender Matt Murray will get the start tonight for the Penguins, and he will surely do his best to frustrate the opponents. A win would put the Penguins just one point behind the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division – and that much closer to home-ice advantage.