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At the Rink blog

Penguins' Kunitz, Niskanen game-time decisions

Wednesday, 02.05.2014 / 1:33 PM

By Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

BUFFALO -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres may be without key players when they face each other at First Niagara Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2).

Penguins forward Chris Kunitz and defenseman Matt Niskanen each missed the morning skate and will be game-time decisions.

"They will just hopefully [be out for] maintenance and will be on the ice [Wednesday]," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "The rest of our lineup will be game-time [decisions]."

The Penguins already were set to be without forward Taylor Pyatt because of a lower-body injury and called up forward Harry Zolnierczyk from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League in case Kunitz can't play.

Pittsburgh already was shorthanded on defense with Kris Letang not making the trip due to illness. Deryk Engelland could slide in on defense if Niskanen can't play. Bylsma also announced Marc-Andre Fleury would get the start in goal.

The Sabres likely will be without defenseman Tyler Myers, who sustained a lower-body injury in the second period Monday against the Edmonton Oilers and did not return to the game.

"It doesn't look very good for [Wednesday] but we'll see," interim coach Ted Nolan said. "Hopefully he'll be ready [Thursday]."

With Myers out, Chad Ruhwedel rejoins the lineup after being a healthy scratch against the Oilers. Nolan announced Tuesday that Ryan Miller would get the start in goal. Miller took a 3-0 loss to the Penguins on Jan. 27 in Pittsburgh.

"He's a big guy, takes up a lot of space and makes those first saves a lot," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said of Miller. "So you need to be able to find rebounds and compete in front. They've got some [defensemen] that do a good job of clearing out the front too. So you really have to compete to get to that area and get second opportunities."

Here are the projected lineups for the Penguins and Sabres:

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Brian Gibbons

Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Tanner Glass - Brandon Sutter - Jayson Megna

Chuck Kobasew - Craig Adams - Deryk Engelland

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Rob Scuderi - Robert Bortuzzo

Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Kris Letang (ill), Taylor Pyatt (lower body), Beau Bennett (wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), Joe Vitale (wrist), Tomas Vokoun (blood clot)

SABRES

Linus Omark - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford

Steve Ott - Cody Hodgson - Matt D'Agostini

Philip Varone - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Flynn

John Scott - Matt Ellis - Marcus Foligno

Chad Ruhwedel - Henrik Tallinder

Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer

Mike Weber - Jamie McBain

Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Zenon Konopka, Ville Leino

Injured: Tyler Myers (lower body), Cody McCormick (upper body), Matt Moulson (upper body)

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory