Currently riding a five-game point run, the Pittsburgh Penguins (2nd in East Division) will try to record their fifth win in six outings while visiting the Buffalo Sabres (8th in the East), who have been eliminated from contention to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Penguins Expand Point RunThe Pittsburgh Penguins (28-13-3) extended their point streak to five contests (4-0-1) after following up Thursday’s 2-1 shootout defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers with a 3-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center yesterday afternoon. Jared McCann (12 goals, 22 points this year) opened the scoring midway through the first period. Evan Rodrigues (6 goals, 11 points) made it 2-0 at the start of the second frame, just barely a minute before Buffalo cut it to 2-1, only for Bryan Rust (17 goals, 34 points) to bury the eventual winner during power play at 12:15 of the middle session, with the Sabres managing to respond with just a single man-advantage strike of their own in the final third.
Goalie Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots yesterday, taking his current performance status to 18-8-3 for the ongoing campaign with a 2.74 GAA and a .910 save percentage. Casey DeSmith (10-5-0 this season with a 2.40 GAA and a .912 save percentage), though, will take over the crease for Pittsburgh today, having recorded a 3-0-1 past tally against Buffalo with a 1.25 GAA and a .960 save percentage. The Penguins, meanwhile, are scoring the 4th highest quantity of goals per game this year (3.34), while conceding the 13th lowest amount defensively (2.75). The team is 9th in power play (22.8%) and 24th in penalty kill (76.7%).
Sabres Get Edged By PittsburghA three-game point streak (2-0-1) came to an end for the Buffalo Sabres (11-26-7), who started their current five-game homestand with a 3-2 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins at KeyBank Center yesterday. The Sabres converted on their only power-play chance, but were outshot 41-30 and killed just one of their two penalties, eventually just managing to cut both Pittsburgh’s two-goal leads to one snipe. Tage Thompson (6 goals, 9 points this year) got Buffalo within 2-1 at 6:41 of the second period, while Casey Mittelstadt (8 goals, 14 points) cut it to 3-2 midway through the final third. The loss officially eliminated the Sabres from the race to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the team tying the longest run without postseason action in NHL history (10 seasons).
Goalie Dustin Tokarski (1-5-2 on the year with a 3.30 GAA and a .910 save percentage) made 38 saves yesterday afternoon, but is likely to vacate the crease for Michael Houser ahead of the upcoming clash. Houser was 16-5-5 with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones last season with a 2.27 GAA and a .902 save percentage, and is yet to make his NHL debut. The Sabres, meanwhile, are netting the 3rd lowest number of goals per game this year (2.36), while allowing the 3rd highest quantity on the defensive end (3.39). The team ranks 14th in power play with a 21.3% success rate and 21st in penalty kill with 77.9% effectiveness.
Pittsburgh (according to Covers.com)
- Penguins are 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of less than .400.
Buffalo (according to Covers.com)
- Sabres are 4-17 in their last 21 home games.
- Sabres are 3-13 in their last 16 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Penguins edged out the Sabres with just a minimal score of 3-2 yesterday afternoon. But do expect a heftier win for Pittsburgh today! Buffalo goalie Michael Houser is likely to make his NHL debut against a Penguins team that has already scored at least four snipes in six of its past eight overall fixtures. The Pens have also beaten Buffalo on the very last six occasions, winning by more than one goal in five of those games. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is 5-1 in its most recent six road matchups against teams with a domestic winning percentage below the .400 mark, while the Sabres have only managed to win three of their last 16 outings played on the final day of a 4-games-in-6-days situation.
Full-Game Total Pick
Only three of the last nine head-to-head meetings between Buffalo and Pittsburgh have delivered more than six snipes on the scoresheet. Still, do bank on this one to cruise past the set goal-mark on Sunday! Five of the previous seven overall contests of the Sabres have already witnessed a ton of strikes, averaging no less than 7.80 tallies per clash, while five of the most recent seven matchups of the Penguins have all turned into high-scoring bouts, recording an average of 9.60 markers per game.