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Penguins vs. Sabres Game Preview

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Sabres Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
33-15-4-70
Home: 18-9-1-37
Road: 15-6-3-33

WHEN: Feb. 4, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Buffalo Sabres
Overall:
23-21-5-51
Home: 11-12-1-23
Road:
12-9-4-28

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres 
 
      
Drew Stafford
F  -  #21
  15 Goals
  9 Assists
  24 Points
• Has performed well against the Penguins in his career, notching nine points (3G-6A) in 13 games against Pittsburgh.

• Is in his fifth season with Buffalo after being the Sabres’ first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

• Won the 2003 USA Hockey Tier I 17-and-under national championship with Shattuck St. Mary’s alongside Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
 
Nathan Gerbe
C  -  #42
  6 Goals
  8 Assists
  14 Points
• Set a Sabres franchise record on Jan. 21 in a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders when he notched two goals in a span of five seconds.

• The 5-foot-5, 178-pound forward – who makes up for his small stature with his strong skating ability – has scored four of his six goals over the past four games.

• Scored five goals in the final two games of the 2008 Frozen Four, being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after leading Boston College to a national championship.
 
Jochen Hecht
C  -  #55
  8 goals
  12 assists
  20 points
• The Sabres alternate captain has played 29 career games against Pittsburgh, tallying 16 points (4G-12A) in those contests.

• Has represented Germany in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games along with numerous World Junior Championship and World Championship appearances.

• Played two full seasons with St. Louis, the team that drafted him in the second round (49th overall) in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, before being traded to Edmonton in 2001 and then Buffalo the season after that.
The Penguins will host what is certainly a well-rested team on Friday at CONSOL Energy Center, as the game marks the Sabres’ first contest coming out of the All-Star break. Buffalo hasn’t played a game since Jan. 25, a 3-2 overtime win against Ottawa. As of Thursday, the Sabres sat six points out of playoff contention behind Atlanta, but have four games in hand on the Thrashers and rolled into the break with a 9-3-1 record in their last 13 games.

The Sabres needed the time off to take care of some bumps and bruises, especially in the case of leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who’s been playing through an upper-body injury. Despite that, they’ve certainly got some bright spots up top with rookie Tyler Ennis playing outstanding for Buffalo. He ranks third on the team and fifth among rookies with 28 points (12G-16A), while Drew Stafford has also been shining as well, notching two hat tricks in an eight-game span in December and his 15 goals ranking second on the squad.

And much like the Penguins, while the Sabres have a few other injuries smattered throughout their forward lineup, their back-end is solid as ever.

Their defensive corps is an offensive-minded, smooth-skating group that likes to join the rush and get involved in the play. They also like to be active in the offensive zone, pinching on plays and sneaking down low. They’re led by former Penguin Jordan Leopold, who has 10 goals and 27 points through 49 games while pacing the squad with an average of 23:37 minutes per contest.

They’ve also had a consistently solid performer between the pipes in Ryan Miller. The athletic Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner, has a respectable 21-14-4 record, .913 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average. However, the netminder has a 2-6-2 record and a 3.62 goals-against average in his last 11 contests against the Penguins, but he's more than capable of stealing games for his team.
  • Pittsburgh has won four consecutive games against the Sabres, including both games this season. The Penguins have lost just once in regulation against the Sabres in their last eight home games, posting a 6-1-1 record. Friday marks Buffalo’s first trip to CONSOL Energy Center this season.
  • Last season the Penguins went 3-1 versus the Sabres, marking the third time in the previous four years and the eighth time in the past 10 seasons they have captured the season series. Pittsburgh has a chance to make it nine of 11 with a victory tonight. Since 1999-00 the Penguins own a 26-9-7 advantage over the Sabres.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury has an 8-3-2 career record against Buffalo. Fleury has won three straight starts against the Sabres, stopping 94 of 100 shots, earning his first shutout of the season against Buffalo on Nov. 24 at HSBC Arena. He’s now gone 23-5-2 over his previous 30 starts, posting a 1.88 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in that span.
  • The Penguins are rolling at their brand-new arena, earning the first back-to-back home shutouts in team history with whitewashings over the New York Islanders on Jan. 25 and Feb. 2. The Penguins have not allowed a goal in 120 minutes and 58 seconds at CONSOL Energy Center and have gone 16-4-1 in their past 21 home games. For the season the Penguins own an 18-9-1 record at home – with their 18 wins the most in the NHL.
  • Pittsburgh’s record over its previous 36 games is 26-7-3 while its goals-against average is 1.84. The Penguins have accomplished all this despite playing 23 of those games without Jordan Staal, 11 without Sidney Crosby and nine without Evgeni Malkin.

 

      
Don't Let Them Shoot - The last time the Penguins and the Sabres faced off, Buffalo outshot Pittsburgh by a 36-24 margin. That’s not surprising as the Sabres average 33.3 shots a game, the third-best number in the league. Pittsburgh’s forwards have done a nice job as of late challenging their opponents’ defensemen on the point and not giving them space to make passes or take shots, and this will be especially crucial against a Sabres defensive corps that likes to make plays on the blueline.

Keep The PK Clicking
: The Penguins’ penalty kill has been outstanding over the past few games, killing off 32 of 33 opposition power plays for a 97-percent success rate. They’ve done especially well against the Sabres while shorthanded, having stymied 25 of Buffalo’s last 28 power plays, including a perfect 7-for-7 mark this season. They need to continue that on Friday, especially with Thomas Vanek quarterbacking Buffalo’s power play – the sniper’s got nine of his 18 tallies and 19 of his 41 points on the man-advantage.
F Arron Asham, upper body (day-to-day)
F Mike Comrie, injured reserve/hip (indefinitely)
C Sidney Crosby, injured reserve/mild concussion (indefinitely)
F Mark Letestu, lower body (4-6 weeks)
RW Patrick Kaleta, hand (day-to-day)
C Tim Connolly, hip flexor (indefinitely)
C Derek Roy, knee (out for the season)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Vanek (18)
A
Crosby (34) Roy (25)
PTS
Crosby (66) Vanek (41)
PIM
Rupp (87) McCormick (98)
+/-
Letang/Goligoski (+22) Montador (+10)
PP
Crosby (10) Vanek (9)
SH
Three tied (2)
Two tied (1)
W/L
Fleury (24-11-2) Miller (21-14-4)
GAA
Johnson (1.90) Miller (2.68)
SVP
Johnson (.929) Miller (.913)

Maxime Talbot - Talbot ended a 25-game goalless drought when he scored an empty-net goal with 41 seconds remaining against the New York Islanders on Wednesday, giving the Penguins a 3-0 victory. The tally – his 50th-career goal and 100th-career point – was extremely well-deserved after a string of outstanding performances all over the ice that just didn’t translate to the scoresheet.
 
Thomas Vanek - Vanek picked up two assists in Buffalo’s last game, a 3-2 overtime victory over Ottawa on Jan. 25, giving him five goals and 11 assists in his past 12 games. He’s been steady for the Sabres since a seven-game goalless drought that spanned from Dec. 11 to Dec. 28, enjoying two four-game point stretches in those 12 games since. Vanek’s 18 goals and 41 points through 49 games lead the squad.
 
 
 
 


A Complementary Pair  
Letang's Strong Play has Earned Norris Consideration
Penguins Report: 2/3/11
Aftermath: Penguins 3, Islanders 0
Max-imum Reward 
Johnson's Knockout Night        
 Penguins Encourage Fans To Bring "Terrible Towels" To Friday's Game vs. Buffalo at CONSOL Energy Center       
 Penguins Support Womansplace Shelters
 With Game-Day Cell Phone Drive
           


If this widget fails to load, click here to read latest PghPenguins Tweets.

WHEN: Feb. 4, 2010 - 7:00 pm
WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH: FSN
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

The Penguins will host what is certainly a well-rested team on Friday at CONSOL Energy Center, as the game marks the Sabres' first contest coming out of the All-Star break. Buffalo hasn't played a game since Jan. 25, a 3-2 overtime win against Ottawa. As of Thursday, the Sabres sat six points out of playoff contention behind Atlanta but have four games in hand on the Thrashers and rolled into the break with a 9-3-1 record in their last 13 games.

The Sabres needed the time off to take care of some bumps and bruises, especially in the case of leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who's been playing through an upper-body injury. Despite that, they've certainly got some bright spots up top, with rookie Tyler Ennis playing outstanding for Buffalo. He ranks third on the team and fifth among rookies with 28 points (12G-16A), while Drew Stafford has also been shining as well, notching two hat tricks in an eight-game span in December and his 15 goals ranking second on the squad.

And much like the Penguins, while the Sabres have a few other injuries smattered throughout their forward lineup, their back-end is solid as ever.

Their defensive corps is an offensive-minded, smooth-skating group that likes to join the rush and get involved in the play. They also like to be active in the offensive zone, pinching on plays and sneaking down low. They're led by former Penguin Jordan Leopold, who has 10 goals and 27 points through 49 games while pacing the squad with an average of 23:37 minutes per contest.

They've also had a consistently solid performer between the pipes in Ryan Miller. The athletic Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner, has a respectable 21-14-4 record, .913 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average. He's capable of stealing games for his team.


INTERESTING STATS

* Pittsburgh has won four consecutive games against the Sabres, including both games this season. The Penguins have lost just once in regulation against the Sabres in their last eight home games, posting a 6-1-1 record. Friday marks Buffalo's first trip to CONSOL Energy Center this season.

* Last season the Penguins went 3-1 versus the Sabres, marking the third time in the previous four years and the eighth time in the past 10 seasons they have captured the season series. Pittsburgh has a chance to make it nine of 11 with a victory tonight. Since 1999-00 the Penguins own a 26-9-7 advantage over the Sabres.

* Marc-Andre Fleury has an 8-3-2 career record against Buffalo. Fleury has won three straight starts against the Sabres, stopping 94 of 100 shots, earning his first shutout of the season against Buffalo on Nov. 24 at HSBC Arena. He's now gone 23-5-2 over his previous 30 starts, posting a 1.88 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in that span.

* The Penguins are rolling at their brand-new arena, earning the first back-to-back home shutouts in team history with whitewashings over the New York Islanders on Jan. 25 and Feb. 2. The Penguins have not allowed a goal in 120 minutes and 58 seconds at CONSOL Energy Center and have gone 16-4-1 in their past 21 home games. For the season the Penguins own an 18-9-1 record at home – with their 18 wins the most in the NHL.

* Pittsburgh's record over its previous 36 games is 26-7-3 while its goals-against average is 1.84. The Penguins have accomplished all this despite playing 23 of those games without Jordan Staal, 11 without Sidney Crosby and nine without Evgeni Malkin.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Don't Let Them Shoot - The last time the Penguins and the Sabres faced off, Buffalo outshot Pittsburgh by a 36-24 margin. That's not surprising as the Sabres average 33.3 shots a game, the third-best number in the league. Pittsburgh's forwards have done a nice job as of late challenging their opponents' defensemen on the point and not giving them space to make passes or take shots, and this will be especially crucial against a Sabres defensive corps that likes to make plays on the blueline.

Keep The PK Clicking: The Penguins' penalty kill has been outstanding over the past few games, killing off 32 of 33 opposition power plays for a 97-percent success rate. They've done especially well against the Sabres while shorthanded, having stymied 25 of Buffalo's last 28 power plays, including a perfect 7-for-7 mark this season. They need to continue that on Friday, especially with Thomas Vanek quarterbacking Buffalo's power play – the sniper's got nine of his 18 tallies and 19 of his 41 points on the man-advantage.


WHO'S HOT

Maxime Talbot - Talbot ended a 25-game goalless drought when he scored an empty-net goal with 41 seconds remaining against the New York Islanders on Wednesday, giving the Penguins a 3-0 victory. The tally – his 50th-career goal and 100th-career point – was extremely well-deserved after a string of outstanding performances all over the ice that just didn't translate to the scoresheet.

Thomas Vanek - Vanek picked up two assists in Buffalo's last game, a 3-2 overtime victory over Ottawa on Jan. 25, giving him five goals and 11 assists in his past 12 games. He's been steady for the Sabres since a seven-game goalless drought that spanned from Dec. 11 to Dec. 28, enjoying two four-game point stretches in those 12 games since. Vanek's 18 goals and 41 points through 49 games lead the squad.



Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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