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At the Rink: Penguins at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to extend their season-high six-game winning streak when they face the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, their closest game of the streak. The Penguins have won four consecutive games against the Sabres, outscoring them 17-2 in that stretch. That includes a 5-0 win Nov. 1 in Pittsburgh.

"Our special teams have been very good," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "If you look at the last six or seven games our special teams have been good. We got out of the gate, got some confidence early, which is very important as you know. If you look around the League, if you come out of the gate well you tend to get that confidence that you need. Those are a couple of the factors. And then now we're getting secondary scoring. We were searching for that early and we've started to get secondary scoring."

During the six-game streak the Penguins' special teams have been great. The power play has gone 11-for-29 (37.9 percent) and the penalty kill has gone 22-for-22.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in scoring and has a streak of his own against Buffalo, with at least one point in 18 consecutive games against the Sabres. Crosby's streak dates to Dec. 29, 2007, and he has 10 goals and 21 assists during it. In his past three games at Buffalo he's scored in each game and has three goals and six assists.

"I think you just get up for every road game the same and make sure that you try to get good starts and have the same kind of mentality," Crosby said. "I think for the most part the ice is always good and you try to take advantage of that."

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will start for the Penguins.

The Sabres will look to bounce back after a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. They blew a 2-1 third-period lead and were outshot 52-31.

"We've got to try and dictate the play," Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges said. "We can't sit back and wait and watch to see what kind of game Pittsburgh's going to come at us with. They're too good, they're too talented, they're too experienced. We sit back and wait and try to play a catch-up game, we're going to get killed. We've got to be hungry. We've got to be aggressive. We've got to play in your face and be on the pucks."

Sabres coach Ted Nolan will have a few changes on defense against the Penguins. Defensemen Mike Weber and Tyson Strachan will return to the lineup, and Andrej Meszaros and Andre Benoit are expected to be scratched.

Goalie Jhonas Enroth will start for the Sabres. His prior start came against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Pascal Dupuis - Evgeni Malkin - Blake Comeau

Nick Spaling - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie

Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Kris Letang

Christian Ehrhoff - Robert Bortuzzo

Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Scott Harrington

Injured: Olli Maatta (neck)


Torrey Mitchell - Tyler Ennis - Chris Stewart

Nicolas Deslauriers - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford

Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Gionta

Johan Larsson - Cody McCormick - Brian Flynn

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Rasmus Ristolainen - Mike Weber

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Strachan

Jhonas Enroth

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Andre Benoit, Andrej Meszaros

Injured: Marcus Foligno (undisclosed), Patrick Kaleta (jaw)

Status report: Foligno was believed to be close to returning Friday, but Nolan said he's still not fully recovered.

Who's hot: Malkin has five goals and 11 assists in his past 12 games. ... Stafford has scored a goal in two consecutive games.

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