(SportsNetwork.com) - With just two games to go before the Olympic break, the
Pittsburgh Penguins look to become just the second team to reach 40 victories
on Wednesday night as they visit the Buffalo Sabres.
Pittsburgh is leading the Eastern Conference with 80 points, five more than
the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins. That total also is just five back
of the 40-13-5 Anaheim Ducks for the best record in the NHL.
The Penguins, owners of a 15-point edge over the New York Rangers for first
place in the Metropolitan Division, have won three of four and 10 of their
last 14 games. That includes a 2-1 victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators
James Neal scored for the first time in nine games, putting home the rebound
of a Robert Bortuzzo shot 1:55 into overtime for his 18th tally of the
Pittsburgh outshot Ottawa 48-25 and got 24 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury.
"We stuck with the game plan and kept getting pucks to the net. (Neal) made a
great play in overtime for the win," said Pens forward Brian Gibbons, who
notched power-play goal in the first period.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang missed his third straight game with an
undisclosed illness and did not travel to Buffalo, while forward Taylor Pyatt
is expected to miss the next two games with a lower-body injury suffered
Pittsburgh will host the New York Rangers on Friday in its final game before
the Olympic break.
Buffalo plays the first of two games on back-to-back nights before it breaks
for the Olympics. The Sabres will visit the Senators following this contest.
The Sabres hope to have halted a seven-game slide at home before heading to
Ottawa, a skid that was extended with Monday's 3-2 setback to the Edmonton
Jhonas Enroth made 25 saves, but allowed Matt Hendricks' short-handed goal in
the third period that proved to be the difference despite the Sabres notching
a season-high 44 shots in the game.
Steve Ott scored on the power play and Drew Stafford notched a short-handed
tally with 56 seconds left in the first period to put Buffalo ahead 2-1, but
the Sabres lost for the ninth time in 11 games overall.
Stafford scored in his return after missing the previous four games with an
upper-body injury, wristing a shot top shelf for his fourth goal and sixth
point in his past five games played.
"I thought Drew, the way he shot that puck, that's what we want to see," said
Buffalo interim coach Ted Nolan said. "He's a big power forward and he's
starting to get his confidence back."
The Sabres, last in the NHL with 38 points, lost defenseman Tyler Myers to a
lower-body injury and he is day-to-day, though he has not been ruled out for
Wednesday marks the third and final meeting of the season between these clubs
and lone clash in Buffalo. The Penguins have outscored the Sabres by a 7-1
margin in taking the first two tests at home, including a 3-0 shutout victory
on Jan. 27.
Fleury stopped 24 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, while Sabres No.
1 netminder Ryan Miller made 31 saves.
Fleury is 14-5-2 with a 2.46 goals against average and two shutouts in his
career versus the Sabres, while Miller has gone 7-12-3 with a 3.21 GAA when
facing the Pens.
Pittsburgh has won 11 of the past 15 meetings overall and four of the last
five in Buffalo.
The Sports Network