SABRES (31-35-10) at PENGUINS (42-25-8)
TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, ROOT, NHL.TV
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matthew Murray will start against the Buffalo Sabres at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.
A 21-year-old rookie, Murray is 4-2-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in seven games. He last played March 17 against the Carolina Hurricanes, making 31 saves in a 4-2 victory.
"I'm always itching to get back in," Murray said. "Just looking to get right back into it … [Sitting often has] been a different challenge I think. I kind of went through it a little bit early last year in my rookie season in the American [Hockey] League. I definitely went through it in the Ontario [Hockey] League as well when I was younger. So it's not a new thing but it's never easy."
The Penguins are third in the Metropolitan Division but can move to within one point of the second-place New York Rangers with a victory; the Rangers are off Tuesday. They also need a win to stay ahead of the fourth-place New York Islanders, who are three points behind the Penguins. The Islanders play the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG+, NHL.TV).
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin will miss a second consecutive game because of an upper-body injury sustained during the Penguins' 7-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Sullivan said Dumoulin is progressing but remains day-to-day.
In 74 games this season Dumoulin has 16 points, all assists, and has done well on the second defense pair with Trevor Daley. With defenseman Olli Maatta week-to-week because of a lower-body injury and Dumoulin out, Daley has been elevated to the top pair alongside defenseman Kris Letang, whose 0.89 points per game ranks third among NHL defensemen to play at least 30 games, behind the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson (1.00) and the San Jose Sharks' Brent Burns (0.91).
Defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Ben Lovejoy have entered the lineup in place of Maatta and Dumoulin. Lovejoy, who has played in consecutive games after missing more than a month because of an upper-body injury, said the Penguins' locker room feels different than it did at this time last season, when they lost 11 of their final 15 games (4-9-2) before clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff spot against the Sabres in the final game of the regular season.
Entering Tuesday the Penguins are 8-1-0 in their past nine games.
"I think every year you want to be peaking right about now," he said. "You want to be playing your best hockey come the spring. I think that last year was a very difficult time at this time. This year has just been completely different. We feel that when we're playing our best hockey we can beat pretty much anybody on any night."
The Sabres will be without left wing Evander Kane, who sustained an upper-body injury in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. With Kane out, Ryan O'Reilly will slide into his spot on the top line, with Jack Eichel replacing O'Reilly at center.
Here are the projected lineups:
Ryan O'Reilly - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Nicolas Deslauriers
Marcus Foligno - David Legwand - Brian Gionta
Matt Moulson - Cal O'Reilly - Hudson Fasching
Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian
Mark Pysyk - Casey Nelson
Injured: Evander Kane (upper body) Cody McCormick (blood clot), Tyler Ennis (upper body), Cody Franson (neck), Jason Kasdorf (lower body), Robin Lehner (ankle)
Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Bryan Rust
Conor Sheary - Eric Fehr - Beau Bennett
Trevor Daley - Kris Letang
Derrick Pouliot - Ben Lovejoy
Ian Cole - Justin Schultz
Injured: Brian Dumoulin (upper body), Olli Maatta (lower body), Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Kevin Porter (ankle surgery), Scott Wilson (lower body)
Scratched: Oskar Sundqvist, Jeff Zatkoff
Status report: The Sabres did not have a morning skate. ... Pittsburgh singed college free agent defenseman Ethan Prow to a two-year, entry-level contract Tuesday. Prow, a finalist for the 2015-16 Hobey Baker Award after winning the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with St. Cloud State, will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL on an amateur tryout contract.
Who's hot: Kessel has two goals and five assists in his past two games, including one goal and four assists against Detroit on Saturday. … Reinhart has four goals and nine assists in his past 15 games.