#4 Buffalo Sabresvs.#3 Pittsburgh Penguins
Tuesday, March 3 2017, at 7:05pm EDT
Written by David Hess
Pittsburgh Penguins (45-17-6-3 SU, 33-38 PL, 42-25-4 O/U) vs Buffalo Sabres (29-31-6-6 SU, 45-27 PL, 32-33-7 O/U)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Where: KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York
Lines: Pittsburgh -185/Buffalo +165
NHL Hockey action on Tuesday evening and the Pittsburgh Penguins will square off with the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. The Penguins enter this game off a solid 4-0 home win over the Florida Panthers and they have now won seven of their last 10 games, while the Sabres come in off a game in Detroit and prior to that they had lost six of their previous eight games. The Pens have won six of their last seven trips to Buffalo, but the home team has taken four of the last five between these teams.
The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to fight for position in the upcoming NHL playoffs and as of now, they are in 3rd place in the Metro Division, sitting just one point out of first, while in the overall Eastern Conference playoff picture, they are in the 6th spot. The Pens would really like to move up from that spot. They come off a solid 4-0 home win over the Florida Panthers and they have now gone 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Penguins are now 29-7 at home, while out on the road they have gone just 16-19. Grabbing the win against the Panthers was Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped all 21 shots that he faced in the game to secure his first shutout of the year. He is now 18-14 with a 2.94 GAA on the year. Matt Murray should get the start in this one and he has gone 27-12 with a 2.41 GAA on the year, including 12-8 with a 2.35 GAA on the road, while against the Sabres in his career he has gone 1-0 with a 4.94 GAA.
Fleury had the big night in the crease, while on offense it was Sidney Crosby that had the big night as he notched his 10th career hat trick in the win. He now has 40 goals on the year, which leads the league. Pittsburgh comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.46 gpg, while also ranking 1st in shots taken (34.1 spg) and 6th in power play conversions, converting on 22.1% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have been a bit below average as they come in ranked 16th in goals allowed, giving up 2.75 gpg, while also ranking 27th in shots allowed (32.3) and 19th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 19.6% of their chances.
This has been a real bad year for the Sabres and it has been even worse of late as they come in having lost 10 of their last 13 games to completely fall out of playoff contention. Right now they are nine points out of the 8th slot, with just 10 games to go. Just not enough games left to make up the ground needed to get into the postseason. They have been a sneaky team at times this year and prior to their game against the Red Wings on Monday night, they had a rather shocking 2-1 road win over the Ducks in a shootout. The Sabres were +210 dogs in the game and despite the win, they are still 12-25 on the road for the year. Scoring their long goal in regulation against the Ducks was Ryan O’Reilly, which was his 17th of the year, while getting the deciding goal in the 10th round of the shootout was Zemgus Girgensons.
Snatching up the win against the Ducks was Anders Nilsson, who has now gone 10-13 with a 2.75 GAA on the year. Robin Lehner is expected to get the start in this none and he has gone 19-30 with a 2.68 GAA, including 10-16 with a 2.51 GAA here at home, while against the Penguins in his career he has gone 1-2 with a 2.75 GAA. Buffalo enters this game ranked 23rd in the league in scoring at 2.47 gpg, while also ranking 16th in shots taken (30.2 spg) and 1st in power play conversions, converting on 23.3% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have been a bit below average as they rank 20th in goals allowed, giving up 2.83 gpg, while also ranking 30th in shots allowed (34.3) and 29th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 23.8% of their chances.
The Penguins have not been a very good road team this year, while the Sabres have played far better at home than on the road. Still, Buffalo just had a rather lengthy road trip and they are playing this game on no rest. The Sabres has scored just three goals in their last three games as of this writing and the Penguins are one of the best offensive teams in the league. Buffalo has pulled some surprises this year, but still I don’t see a tired Sabres team being able to hang with a rested Pittsburgh team in this one. I’m going to take the Penguins on the puckline in this one.
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