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Preview: Penguins at Sabres

Pittsburgh can clinch playoff berth with win against Buffalo

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

PENGUINS (45-17-9) at SABRES (30-31-12)

7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, ROOT, NHL.TV

 

Penguins team scope

The Pittsburgh Penguins will clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Buffalo Sabres in any fashion, or earn one point and the Boston Bruins lose to the Ottawa Senators in regulation. They also can take over first place in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference with a win and a Washington Capitals loss to the Calgary Flames. "I think just the situation we're in alone, regardless of who we end up playing (in the playoffs), it's forcing us to rally around and find ways to win games and find that level of desperation that's sometimes hard to find unless you are fighting for a playoff position or just to get in the playoffs themselves," center Sidney Crosby said. "I think that alone will hopefully help us kind of transition into the playoffs." The Penguins have won two straight games but will be without forward Tom Sestito because of an upper-body injury. "He's day to day so we'll take each day as it comes, but that's where he's at," coach Mike Sullivan said. Defenseman Frank Corrado is poised to make his Penguins debut after skating with Mark Streit on Tuesday. Corrado was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 1 and recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Monday. "He's a good player. He's a solid two-way defenseman," Sullivan said. "We think he can help us win right now. We'll see how it goes but certainly he's another guy that adds to the depth of our defense corps here and we've obviously needed that depth down the stretch to continue to find ways to win games." Goalie Matt Murray will start.

 

Sabres team scope

The Sabres are nine points behind the Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Goalie Robin Lehner will start after making 34 saves in a 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. Buffalo is 6-8-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets. Forward Jack Eichel has 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in his past 31 games, and 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in his past 12. 

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Scott Wilson -- Matt Cullen -- Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz -- Nick Bonino -- Patric Hornqvist

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin -- Justin Schultz

Ian Cole -- Chad Ruhwedel

Mark Streit -- Frank Corrado

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce

Injured: Tom Sestito (upper body), Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Ron Hainsey (upper body), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Trevor Daley (knee), Olli Maatta (hand), Bryan Rust (upper body)

 

Sabres projected lineup

Ryan O'Reilly -- Jack Eichel -- Tyler Ennis

Evander Kane -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson -- Sam Reinhart -- Justin Bailey

Marcus Foligno -- Evan Rodrigues -- Hudson Fasching

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Brady Austin -- Zach Bogosian

Jake McCabe -- Casey Nelson

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: None

Injured: Taylor Fedun (foot), Cody Franson (undisclosed), Justin Falk (calf), Dmitry Kulikov (upper body), Kyle Okposo (ribs), William Carrier (knee), Johan Larsson (wrist)

 

Status report

The Sabres did not have a morning skate Tuesday. … Rust skated with the Penguins. He's been out since Feb. 9. Sundqvist also was called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday, and defenseman Derrick Pouliot was sent to the AHL.

 

Who's hot

Crosby has six points (five goals, one assist) in his past two games. Sheary has four assists in his past two games. Guentzel has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past two games. … O'Reilly has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past 11 games.

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