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Penguins at Sabres preview

Pittsburgh could take over second in Metropolitan Division; Buffalo has lost five in row

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

PENGUINS (38-23-9) at SABRES (30-30-9)



The Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to win their third straight game and could take over second place in the Metropolitan Division when they play the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

The Penguins are two points behind the New York Islanders, who host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. A victory and an Islanders loss in regulation will put Pittsburgh in second with 38 regulation/overtime wins.

The Sabres have lost five in a row (0-4-1) and are without center Jack Eichel, who will serve the second of a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg on Saturday.


Players to watch

Penguins center Sidney Crosby has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in his past nine games.

Sabres forward Sam Reinhart has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past seven games against Pittsburgh.


They said it

"Matt's had a pretty heavy workload. We're trying to watch that. We're trying to keep him at his best. Casey's been good for us. We think this is the right decision at this time." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on goalie Casey DeSmith starting after Matt Murray played nine consecutive games

"You're going to go through stretches where things aren't going your way. You're not finishing as many chances as you'd like but you want to create as much as you can. If you keep creating, odds are that over the course of time it'll even out and things will start to go in." -- Sabres forward Jeff Skinner, who hasn't scored in 12 games


Penguins projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Sidney Crosby -- Jake Guentzel

Teddy Blueger -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon -- Nick Bjugstad -- Patric Hornqvist

Joseph Blandisi -- Matt Cullen -- Garrett Wilson

Brian Dumoulin -- Zach Trotman

Jack Johnson -- Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson -- Erik Gudbranson

Casey DeSmith

Matt Murray

Scratched: Juuso Riikola

Injured: Olli Maatta (upper body), Bryan Rust (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Chad Ruhwedel (upper body), Zach Aston-Reese (lower body)


Sabres projected lineup

Jeff Skinner -- Vladimir Sobotka -- Jason Pominville

Conor Sheary -- Evan Rodrigues -- Sam Reinhart

Alexander Nylander -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Tage Thompson

Scott Wilson -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Rasmus Dahlin -- Brandon Montour

Matt Hunwick -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella -- Casey Nelson

Carter Hutton

Linus Ullmark

Scratched: Zemgus Girgensons

Injured: Zach Bogosian (upper body), Jake McCabe (upper body)

Suspended: Jack Eichel


Status report

Bogosian is day to day. … Rust is day to day and getting close to a return. … Letang and Maatta skated in Pittsburgh and are making progress. … Aston-Reese is a longer-term injury but does not need surgery.


Stat pack

Skinner is one goal from tying his NHL career high of 37 set with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016-17. … Bjugstad needs one point for 200 in the NHL.

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