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Sabres-Penguins Preview

Tuesday, 11.29.2005 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

Sabres-Penguins Preview

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (14-9-1) at Pittsburgh Penguins (7-11-6).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

With Mario Lemieux expected to miss another game and star rookie Sidney Crosby banged up, the last-place Pittsburgh Penguins may look to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for a spark when they host the surging Buffalo Sabres.

Lemieux will miss his second consecutive game because of a stomach virus after he sat out Pittsburgh's 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday. He didn't practice with the team Monday and was not available for comment.

Crosby also missed practice Monday after bruising his left foot when he blocked a shot Friday in a 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. He played in Sunday's loss, but wasn't much of a factor, registering just one shot on goal in 18 1/2 minutes of ice time.

"I talked with the coaches and (we decided) to take the day off, get a little break and make sure I'm ready (for Tuesday)," Crosby said.

Fleury, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL draft, was recalled from the minors Monday and is expected to become the team's starting goaltender.

Fleury has been the best goalie in the AHL this season, going 10-0-2 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a 1.57 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. He was with the Penguins for two short stints earlier this season, but has struggled in his brief NHL career, going 5-15-2 with a 3.60 GAA in 25 games.

Pittsburgh has lost five of seven overall, and three of four at home.

Buffalo is coming off its third straight win, 3-2 over the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

Jason Pominville netted his first NHL goal, and Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht also scored to help the Sabres improve to 6-0-1 since Nov. 15. The lone blemish in that span was a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Nov. 22.

With Taylor Pyatt suffering a wrist injury in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, Pominville was recalled from Rochester of the AHL for the second time this season and saw more than 15 minutes of ice time.

Pominville had been on a hot streak with Rochester, recording 17 points in his last 12 games.

"It's a great feeling and hopefully it's one of many," Pominville said of his first goal. "I want to try to force them to keep me here."

Buffalo has needed other players to contribute offensively because leading scorer Daniel Briere missed his third straight game Sunday with an abdominal strain.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 28): Sabres - 29 points, 4th place, 7 PB, Northeast Division. Penguins - 20 points, 5th place, 15 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Briere and Ales Kotalik, 12 goals; Teppo Numminen, 16 assists; Briere, 20 points; Paul Gaustad, 22 PIM. Penguins - Crosby, 12 goals; Zigmund Palffy, 18 assists; Crosby and Palffy, 28 points; Brooks Orpik, 40 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 28): Sabres - Power play: 22 percent (32 for 145), tied for 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 82 percent (96 for 117), tied for 15th. Penguins - Power play: 17 percent (27 for 158), 16th. Penalty killing: 77.8 percent (123 for 158), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Martin Biron (7-4-1, 0 SO, 2.77 GAA); Mika Noronen (1-1-0, 3.06). Penguins - Sebastien Caron (5-3-3, 3.95); Fleury (1-1-1, 3.40).

SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 10; Sabres, 3-2, OT. At Buffalo, N.Y., Hecht jammed in a loose puck with 20 seconds left in overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 6-5-0 on the road; Penguins - 3-5-3 at home.


Associated Press
2005-2006 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Dec 17 '05PIT 3 at BUF 4C. Drury
Dec 16 '05BUF 4 at PIT 3 - OTC. Drury
Nov 29 '05BUF 3 at PIT 2A. Kotalik
Oct 10 '05PIT 2 at BUF 3 - OTJ. Hecht
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%