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Sabres host Penguins in Wednesday Night Rivalry

by Brian Hunter

PENGUINS (39-15-2) at SABRES (15-32-8)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 7-3-0; Buffalo 2-5-3

Season series: This is the third and final game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. The Penguins won the first two by a combined 7-1 score, with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopping 44 of 45 shots.

Big story: Sabres goalie Ryan Miller will again represent the United States when the Sochi Olympics begin in a matter of days. Fleury couldn't crack the Canadian roster, but he leads the NHL with 30 wins and has the Penguins positioned as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

Penguins: With Taylor Pyatt injured on his opening shift in a 2-1 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators on Monday and Andrew Ebbett reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, assistant coach Tony Granato supplemented Pittsburgh's forward depth by skating on the fourth line at practice Tuesday.

Fleury became the fastest Penguins goalie ever to 30 wins in a season and had his teammates raving about a save he made in the third period on Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Penguins went on to win when James Neal scored 1:55 into the extra period.

"That's the best one I've ever seen him make," Neal said of Fleury's glove stop on a blistering one-timer by Karlsson. "He's been doing that all year. He's an unbelievable goalie. He showed that. His consistency has been great all year. He just keeps getting better."

Sabres: Since a run of four wins in six games from Dec. 17-29, Buffalo has won just four of 16 games. Interim coach Ted Nolan has shuffled players in and out of the lineup; forward Ville Leino, a healthy scratch for the 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, saw some time on the second line at practice Tuesday.

With only six games remaining prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5 -- two before the Olympic break, four after -- the scuttlebutt surrounding Miller's future continues. The 33-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has the sixth-best save percentage (.925) despite facing the fourth-highest volume of shots (1,339).

"We haven't talked about anything with regard to contracts," Miller said Tuesday of his dealings with Sabres management. "We haven't talked about anything with regard to trades."

Who's hot: Penguins forwards Jussi Jokinen (one goal, four assists) Evgeni Malkin (two goals, two assists) and Neal (one goal, two assists) all have three-game point streaks. … Sabres forward Steve Ott has two goals in the past three games.

Injury report: Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen and forward Chris Kunitz are game-time decisions due to maintenance reasons. Defenseman Kris Letang (illness) will miss his fourth straight game. Pyatt (lower body) played 22 seconds Monday before getting injured and is out until after the Olympic break. Goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) and forwards Beau Bennett (wrist), Pascal Dupuis (knee), Chris Conner (hand) and Joe Vitale (wrist) are on injured reserve. … Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers (lower body) left the game Monday in the second period and won't play Wednesday. Defenseman Mike Weber (undisclosed) didn't practice Tuesday and is day-to-day. Forwards Cody McCormick (upper body) and Matt Moulson (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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