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Pens go for season sweep vs. Sabres

by Dave Lozo
SABRES (32-25-8) at PENGUINS (38-21-8)

TV -- MSG-B (HD), FS-P (HD)

Last 10 -- Buffalo 5-3-2; Pittsburgh 3-3-4

Season series -- This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Penguins are looking for the sweep after a 3-2 comeback victory Feb. 4. That was the final game of the season for Evgeni Malkin, who was injured in a collision with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers.

Big story -- This is a potential 1 vs. 8 or 2 vs. 7 Eastern Conference playoff matchup. The Sabres have yet to beat the Pens this season, but this will be the first time these two teams will collide without Sidney Crosby and Malkin in the Pens' lineup.

Team Scope:

Sabres --
Since Terry Pegula held a press conference to announce he was the team's new owner, the Sabres nearly have been unstoppable. They are 5-0-2 in their last seven games and coming off a 3-2 overtime win in Minnesota on Sunday.

Backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth gave starter Ryan Miller a rare rest and made 24 saves to help the Sabres improve to 6-0-1 in their last seven road games. It was also Buffalo's second road win in as many nights.

"From an effort standpoint, back-to-back and a tough turnover, I thought our third period, our battle and the amount of puck time we had in the offensive zone was real good," coach Lindy Ruff said.

Penguins – Since Malkin went down in that game against the Sabres, the Pens are 4-6-4. That's not too bad for a team playing without two of the biggest stars in the game.

However, the Pens haven't won in regulation in more than a month. They are coming off a hard-fought, 3-2 overtime win in Boston on Saturday. Rookie Dustin Jeffrey scored the winner to get the Pens within two points of the East-leading Philadelphia Flyers.

"I just think it shows our team character," Jeffrey said. "We talk about the losses, but we're getting points, even if they're overtime losses. We're keeping pace and we're two points behind the conference leader. With 16 or 17 games left, it's something that we can reach."

Injury report -- Sabres right wing Mike Grier (knee) and center Jochen Hecht (upper body) missed Sunday's game in Minnesota and are considered day-to-day. Patrick Kaleta (leg) blocked a shot against the Wild and did not return. His status for Tuesday is up in the air. ... For the Pens, Chris Kunitz (lower body) has missed 13 games, but coach Dan Bylsma is hopeful he can rejoin the lineup against the Sabres. Center Eric Tangradi (concussion) and defenseman Brooks Orpik (finger) are out.

Stat pack -- Sabres winger Drew Stafford, who has a team-leading 26 goals in 47 games, was held without a goal in eight straight before scoring a goal in each game this past weekend. … The last time the Penguins won in regulation was Feb. 4 against the Sabres.

Puck drop -- "As we've said all year, we have a standard of the way we want to play. It doesn't matter if it's Sid and Geno (Malkin) or it's (Craig Adams) and (Dustin Jeffrey), we want to play that way. We want to model our team around a certain standard, and we've done that successfully. That's our focus." -- Penguins forward Matt Cooke
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