The Buffalo Sabres have a second chance to become the NHL points leader - if only for a few hours.
If the Sabres can record their longest home winning streak of the season and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins for a sixth straight time on Friday, they can overtake Anaheim for first in the Presidents' Trophy race.
The Sabres' game begins at 8 p.m. EST, two hours before the Ducks host the Blue Jackets. Anaheim has not relinquished the lead for the most points in the NHL since overtaking Buffalo (29-8-3) in late November.
With the Ducks having lost three straight, however, the Sabres moved within one point of the lead by winning four in a row. With Anaheim idle on Wednesday, Buffalo had a chance to reclaim the top spot in a game at Ottawa, but lost 6-3.
The Sabres' win streak at HSBC Arena, though, remains intact. They are looking to win five consecutive home games within the same regular season for the first since March 3-16.
Buffalo has won five straight meetings and, including one tie, has not lost in seven games against Pittsburgh (17-15-6) since March 26, 2004. The Sabres defeated the Penguins 4-2 on Nov. 17 despite Sidney Crosby's two goals in the only matchup this season.
Buffalo allowed a season high-tying three power-play goals in four chances on Wednesday. The team had not given up a goal in any of its 16 short-handed situations over the previous five games.
"We still are not there on special teams," said Sabres co-captain Chris Drury, who sees time on the power-play and penalty-killing units. "We've got no one to blame or point fingers at other than our own special teams. They weren't good enough."
The Sabres, though, have converted a power-play goal in five straight games, totaling 27 opportunities in that stretch. They are 1-for-5 with the extra man in each of their last four games.
The Penguins have followed a five-game losing streak by winning two straight, killing off all 12 of their opponents' power plays. They're 6-for-21 with the extra man in the last three games.
However, Pittsburgh is scoreless in 19 power-play chances over its past four road games. The team has won only three of 13 contests away from home since winning its first four of the season.
Goals might be tough to come by for Buffalo if Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury can continue his solid play. Fleury made 31 saves for his first shutout since the season opener in a 3-0 home win over Carolina on Tuesday.
"The guys cleared the rebounds, they cut off passes, they helped me out a lot," he said.
Fleury has stopped 61 of 62 shots he has faced in the last two games. However, he has given up at least three goals in 10 of his 12 starts on the road. The former No. 1 overall pick is winless with a 3.25 goals-against average in three career starts against Buffalo, which leads the NHL with 152 goals.
The Penguins hope Crosby can continue his offensive outburst after a second straight three-point performance enabled him to become the league's first player to surpass 60 points this season. He had two goals and an assist against Carolina on Tuesday.
"I'd say this was one of the best games we've played this season," said Crosby, who emphasized the game was won in the defensive end. "It was complete. We didn't have any lapses. We were carrying the play and doing a good job."
Crosby has three goals and two assists in five career appearances against Buffalo.
Sabres star Chris Drury has three goals and four assists in his last four appearances against the Penguins.
Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, whose six goals allowed on Wednesday were a season high, stopped 26 shots in a 3-2 win over the Penguins on Oct. 10, 2005, in his only career start against them.