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Penguins vs. Sabres Game Preview

Monday, 03.07.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Sabres Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
38-21-8-84
Home: 20-11-2-42
Road: 18-10-6-42

WHEN: March 8, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Buffalo Sabres
Overall: 
32-25-8-72
Home: 14-15-3-31
Road:
18-10-5-41

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres 
 
      
Brad Boyes
RW  -  #22
  14 Goals
  31 Assists
  45 Points
• Acquired from St. Louis on Feb. 27 in exchange for a second-round draft pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and scored in each of his first two games as a Sabre, becoming the fifth Buffalo player since 1998 to score in his debut with the team.

• Has never missed a game due to injury in his NHL career, with his streak of 475 consecutive games ranking as the league’s third-longest active ironman streak. 

• The 28 year old has the potential to post dangerous offensive numbers, as he tallied 43 goals in 2007-08 with St. Louis before scoring 33 times the following season.
 
Drew Stafford
RW  -  #21
  26 Goals
  14 Assists
  40 Points
• Has two goals in his last two games, including the game-winning goal just 48 seconds into overtime to give the Sabres a 3-2 win over Minnesota on Sunday.

• The 25-year-old forward has notched a point in five of his last six games for a total of two goals and three assists.

• Already has 25 goals on the season despite missing 15 games earlier in the season with an upper-body injury; scored his fourth hat trick in 60 days versus the Islanders on Feb. 13.
 
Steve Montador
D  -  #4
  5 goals
  16 assists
  21 points
• Has enjoyed an offensive outburst as of late, as Montador has tallied six points (1G-5A) in his last six games.

• Played in his 500th NHL game at Atlanta on Feb. 23 and leads the Sabres with a plus-20 rating and 115 blocked shots.

• The undrafted blueliner is in his second season with the Sabres after stints with Calgary (the team that signed him in 2000), Florida and Anaheim.
The Penguins will host a surging Sabres squad on Tuesday that has not lost a road game in regulation since their last trip to Pittsburgh on Feb. 4 – which was their first contest following the All-Star break. Buffalo has gone 5-0-2 in the seven games since Terry Pegula – a native of Carbondale, Pennsylvania and Penn State graduate – became the team’s new owner on Feb. 22.

Buffalo, who has hovering on the cusp of the playoff picture for the majority of the season, finally penetrated the postseason with their 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota on Sunday that allowed them to leapfrog Carolina to snag the eighth and final playoff berth by a one-point margin. The Sabres have quietly been one of the NHL’s most consistent teams since the new year, going 17-7-4 since Jan. 1 after ending 2010 with a 15-18-4 record that had them ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres are in the midst of a franchise-record tying seven-game road trip and have been thriving in their opponents’ arenas, as they visit CONSOL Energy Center with a 6-0-1 record in their last seven road contests.

In the absence of last year’s leading scorer Derek Roy, who is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, Thomas Vanek continues to be the Sabres’ most consistent producer. He’s netted 30 points (10G-20A) in 30 games since Roy went down on Dec. 23 and paces the Sabres with 55 points (23G-32A). Drew Stafford and Jason Pominville are each performing steadily as well. Stafford has tallied 11 goals (including two hat tricks) since his last visit to Pittsburgh on Feb. 4, while Pominville has scored in each of his past two games, including the game-winning goal against Philadelphia on March 5.

Their mobile defensive corps is continuing to play a huge role in the Sabres’ offensive strategy, and lately it’s the duo of Andrej Sekera and Steve Montador that’d been providing plenty of offense. After being a healthy scratch for three-straight games, Sekera re-entered the lineup on Feb. 26 in place of an injured Jordan Leopold and found instant chemistry playing alongside Montador. The two defensemen have combined for 14 points in the five games they’ve been paired together.

Ryan Miller got a break on Sunday after starting nine straight games between the pipes, and he’ll more than likely get the start on Tuesday. While the 30-year-old Miller isn’t having quite the spectacular season he had last year, he’s still been solid for the Sabres. The athletic Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner, has earned 29 wins while facing 1,636 shots, the fourth-most total in the league. He’s more than capable of stealing games for his team.
  • Pittsburgh has won five consecutive games against the Sabres, including all three contests so far this season. The Penguins have lost just once in regulation against the Sabres in their last nine home games, posting a 7-1-1 record.
  • The Penguins’ 3-0 record thus far against Buffalo ensures they will capture the season series for the fourth time in the past five years. Since 2006-07 the Penguins own a 14-4-1 overall record against Buffalo, and Pittsburgh has won the season series between the two teams nine times in the past 11 seasons. Since 1999-2000 the Penguins own a 27-9-7 advantage over the Sabres.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury has a 9-3-2 career record against Buffalo and has won three-straight starts against the Sabres, stopping 91 of 95 Buffalo shots over that span. Fleury earned his first shutout of the season and the 17th of his career in a 1-0 Penguins victory over Buffalo on Nov. 24 at HSBC Arena.
  • Pittsburgh is coming off a solid performance on its season-high five-game road swing, posting a 2-1-2 record. Each of the final four games of the trip went to overtime, with the Penguins winning once in overtime (March 5 at Boston) and once via shootout (Feb. 26 at Toronto), and losing a pair of overtime contests (March 2 at Toronto and March 4 at New Jersey).
  • Pittsburgh’s four consecutive overtime games leaves the team one shy of equaling the franchise record for most-consecutive overtime games, which was achieved March 4-13, 2007 (4-1 record).
  • Since Feb. 1, nine of the team’s past 17 contests have been decided in overtime or a shootout, with the Penguins going 5-4 in those games. Each of the team’s last four games and seven of the previous nine have stretched beyond 60 minutes. For the season, Pittsburgh is 10-8 when the game stretches beyond regulation, with its 10 victories ranking fifth (tied) in the league.
  • Tuesday will be the Penguins’ 199th consecutive sellout. The team will celebrate its 200th sellout when the Montreal Canadiens visit on March 12.

 

      
Take Advantage of Their Struggling Power Play: The Sabres have been struggling in the special teams department recently, especially with the man advantage, as their power play has given up a league-leading 12 shorthanded goals on the season. While head coach Dan Bylsma would certainly like his team to stay out of the box, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff utilizes a forward and a defenseman on the point and Pittsburgh’s penalty killers will need to take advantage of that if they do go a man down. The Penguins are tied for the league lead with 10 shorthanded goals.

Physicality:
The Penguins enter Tuesday’s game ranked second in the league with 1,885 hits, which equals out to an average of 28.1 per contest. The Sabres, on the other hand, have thrown an NHL-low 1,224 hits – averaging just 18.1 hits per game. Buffalo is known for being a smooth skating, mobile team throughout their entire lineup, and the Penguins will need to bring a physical edge to Tuesday’s game in order to keep the Sabres hemmed in their own end and stop them from activating and joining the rush.
F Arron Asham, concussion (IR)
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)
F Chris Kunitz, lower body (day-to-day)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss remainder of season)
D Brooks Orpik, hand (4 weeks)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (IR)
RW Mike Grier, lower body (day-to-day)
C Jochen Hecht, upper body (day-to-day)
RW Patrick Kaleta, lower body (day-to-day)
C Derek Roy, knee (will miss remainder of season)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Stafford (26)
A
Letang (38) Vanek (32)
PTS
Crosby (66) Vanek (55)
PIM
Rupp (116) McCormick (128)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Montador (+20)
PP
Crosby (10) Vanek/Stafford (9)
SH
Cooke (3)
Pominville/Kaleta (1)
W/L
Fleury (29-16-5)
Miller (28-18-7)
GAA
Johnson (2.24) Enroth (2.59)
SVP
Fleury/Johnson (.918) Miller (.914)

Dustin Jeffrey - Jeffrey scored the game-winning goal 1:52 into overtime to power Pittsburgh past Boston by a score of 3-2 on March 5. He also tallied during regulation to record his first-career two-goal game in the National Hockey League. Jeffrey, 23, now has three tallies in five games since returning from a lower-body injury on Feb. 25 at Carolina that sidelined him for six contests. The rookie forward has recorded eight points (6G-2A) in his last 13 contests, and the Penguins are 6-0 this season when Jeffrey scores and 8-0 when he gets a point.
 
Andrej Sekera - After being a healthy scratch for three-straight games on Feb. 20, 23 and 25, Sekera was re-inserted into the lineup on Feb. 26 when fellow blueliner Jordan Leopold was sidelined with an upper-body injury. Sekera responded a goal and an assist that night and hasn’t cooled down since, notching a total of 10 points (2G-8A) over his past five games – all of which were multiple-point efforts. His five-game point stretch marks a new career-high for the 24-year-old defenseman. On Sunday, Sekera notched the primary helper on the Sabres’ second goal before earning the lone assist on Drew Stafford’s overtime game-winning goal. Sekera’s efforts earned him the NHL’s ‘Second Star’ for the week ending March 7, and he’s now set new personal bests in both assists (19) and points (22).
 
 
 
 

Fan Guide vs. Buffalo
Pens Provide Smiles at Charity Practice & Luncheon
Penguins Report: 3/7/11 
Penguins Cup Schedule & Results
Road to the 2011 Penguins Cup: Class AAA Preview 
Road to the 2011 Penguins Cup: Class AA Preview 
Road to the 2011 Penguins Cup: Class A Preview 
Dustin Time 
Aftermath: Penguins 3, Bruins 2 (OT) 

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WHEN: March 8, 2011 - 7:00 pm
WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH: FSN
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

The Penguins will host a surging Sabres squad on Tuesday that has not lost a road game in regulation since their last trip to Pittsburgh on Feb. 4 – which was their first contest following the All-Star break. Buffalo has gone 5-0-2 in the seven games since Terry Pegula – a native of Carbondale, Pennsylvania and Penn State graduate – became the teams new owner on Feb. 22.

Buffalo, who has hovering on the cusp of the playoff picture for the majority of the season, finally penetrated the postseason with their 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota on Sunday that allowed them to leapfrog Carolina to snag the eighth and final playoff berth by a one-point margin. The Sabres have quietly been one of the NHLs most consistent teams since the new year, going 17-7-4 since Jan. 1 after ending 2010 with a 15-18-4 record that had them ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres are in the midst of a franchise-record tying seven-game road trip and have been thriving in their opponents arenas, as they visit CONSOL Energy Center with a 6-0-1 record in their last seven road contests.

In the absence of last years leading scorer Derek Roy, who is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, Thomas Vanek continues to be the Sabres most consistent producer. Hes netted 30 points (10G-20A) in 30 games since Roy went down on Dec. 23 and paces the Sabres with 55 points (23G-32A). Drew Stafford and Jason Pominville are each performing steadily as well. Stafford has tallied 11 goals (including two hat tricks) since his last visit to Pittsburgh on Feb. 4, while Pominville has scored in each of his past two games, including the game-winning goal against Philadelphia on March 5.

Their mobile defensive corps is continuing to play a huge role in the Sabres offensive strategy, and lately its the duo of Andrej Sekera and Steve Montador thatd been providing plenty of offense. After being a healthy scratch for three-straight games, Sekera re-entered the lineup on Feb. 26 in place of an injured Jordan Leopold and found instant chemistry playing alongside Montador. The two defensemen have combined for 14 points in the five games theyve been paired together.

Ryan Miller got a break on Sunday after starting nine straight games between the pipes, and hell more than likely get the start on Tuesday. While the 30-year-old Miller isnt having quite the spectacular season he had last year, hes still been solid for the Sabres. The athletic Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner, has earned 29 wins while facing 1,636 shots, the fourth-most total in the league. Hes more than capable of stealing games for his team.


INTERESTING STATS

* Pittsburgh has won five consecutive games against the Sabres, including all three contests so far this season. The Penguins have lost just once in regulation against the Sabres in their last nine home games, posting a 7-1-1 record.

* The Penguins 3-0 record thus far against Buffalo ensures they will capture the season series for the fourth time in the past five years. Since 2006-07 the Penguins own a 14-4-1 overall record against Buffalo, and Pittsburgh has won the season series between the two teams nine times in the past 11 seasons. Since 1999-2000 the Penguins own a 27-9-7 advantage over the Sabres.

* Marc-Andre Fleury has a 9-3-2 career record against Buffalo and has won three-straight starts against the Sabres, stopping 91 of 95 Buffalo shots over that span. Fleury earned his first shutout of the season and the 17th of his career in a 1-0 Penguins victory over Buffalo on Nov. 24 at HSBC Arena.

* Pittsburgh is coming off a solid performance on its season-high five-game road swing, posting a 2-1-2 record. Each of the final four games of the trip went to overtime, with the Penguins winning once in overtime (March 5 at Boston) and once via shootout (Feb. 26 at Toronto), and losing a pair of overtime contests (March 2 at Toronto and March 4 at New Jersey).

* Pittsburghs four consecutive overtime games leaves the team one shy of equaling the franchise record for most-consecutive overtime games, which was achieved March 4-13, 2007 (4-1 record).

* Since Feb. 1, nine of the teams past 17 contests have been decided in overtime or a shootout, with the Penguins going 5-4 in those games. Each of the teams last four games and seven of the previous nine have stretched beyond 60 minutes. For the season, Pittsburgh is 10-8 when the game stretches beyond regulation, with its 10 victories ranking fifth (tied) in the league.

* Tuesday will be the Penguins 199th consecutive sellout. The team will celebrate its 200th sellout when the Montreal Canadiens visit on March 12.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Take Advantage of Their Struggling Power Play: The Sabres have been struggling in the special teams department recently, especially with the man advantage, as their power play has given up a league-leading 12 shorthanded goals on the season. While head coach Dan Bylsma would certainly like his team to stay out of the box, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff utilizes a forward and a defenseman on the point and Pittsburghs penalty killers will need to take advantage of that if they do go a man down. The Penguins are tied for the league lead with 10 shorthanded goals.

Physicality: The Penguins enter Tuesdays game ranked second in the league with 1,885 hits, which equals out to an average of 28.1 per contest. The Sabres, on the other hand, have thrown an NHL-low 1,224 hits – averaging just 18.1 hits per game. Buffalo is known for being a smooth skating, mobile team throughout their entire lineup, and the Penguins will need to bring a physical edge to Tuesdays game in order to keep the Sabres hemmed in their own end and stop them from activating and joining the rush.


WHO'S HOT

Dustin Jeffrey - Jeffrey scored the game-winning goal 1:52 into overtime to power Pittsburgh past Boston by a score of 3-2 on March 5. He also tallied during regulation to record his first-career two-goal game in the National Hockey League. Jeffrey, 23, now has three tallies in five games since returning from a lower-body injury on Feb. 25 at Carolina that sidelined him for six contests. The rookie forward has recorded eight points (6G-2A) in his last 13 contests, and the Penguins are 6-0 this season when Jeffrey scores and 8-0 when he gets a point.

Andrej Sekera - After being a healthy scratch for three-straight games on Feb. 20, 23 and 25, Sekera was re-inserted into the lineup on Feb. 26 when fellow blueliner Jordan Leopold was sidelined with an upper-body injury. Sekera responded a goal and an assist that night and hasnt cooled down since, notching a total of 10 points (2G-8A) over his past five games – all of which were multiple-point efforts. His five-game point stretch marks a new career-high for the 24-year-old defenseman. On Sunday, Sekera notched the primary helper on the Sabres second goal before earning the lone assist on Drew Staffords overtime game-winning goal. Sekeras efforts earned him the NHLs Second Star for the week ending March 7, and hes now set new personal bests in both assists (19) and points (22).



Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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