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Penguins vs. Sabres Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 5-5-1-11
Road: 7-3-1-15

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: HSBC Arena
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Buffalo Sabres
Home: 3-7-1-7

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres 
Derek Roy
F  -  #9
  9 Goals
  14 Assists
  23 Points
• Despite seeing his team-high seven-game point streak snapped on Saturday, the 5-foot-9 forward leads the team with nine goals and 14 assists.
• His 23 points are tied for 11th in the league.
• He paces all Buffalo forwards in ice time with 19:56 minutes played.
Tyler Ennis
F  -  #63
  5 Goals
  6 Assists
  11 Points
• The left winger has 11 points (5G-6A) in 22 games played, good for fourth (tied) in the league among rookies.
• His five goals rank third among first-year NHLers.
• Ranks second on the team with a plus-six rating.
Jordan Leopold
D  -  #3
  5 goals
  9 assists
  14 points
• After playing for eight different teams in six NHL seasons, the blueliner leads the team in minutes-played with 24:01.
• Tied for third in goals among NHL defenseman with five and ranks ninth in points with 14.
• Tied for third on the team with a plus-four rating.
The Penguins conclude their two-game road trip and the team’s fifth annual ‘Dad’s Trip’ by visiting the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night before heading home to host the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

After a tough start to the season – posting a 3-7-2 record during the month of October – Sabres currently sit in last place in the Northeast Division with 19 points, fourth-fewest in the Eastern Conference. They have allowed 68 goals, tied for second-most in the NHL.

Despite those statistics, Buffalo has a steady foundation on the blue line with a unit that features towering sophomore defenseman Tyler Myers, last season’s Calder Trophy winner as the league’s top rookie. Joining the 6-foot-8 blueliner in the top four are Andrej Sekera, Steve Montador and former Penguin Jordan Leopold.

The Sabres’ blueliners have chipped in offensively, leading the league in scoring by defensemen with 15 goals and accounting for 26.8 percent of the team’s total goals. Myers has scored three game-winning goals so far this season, while Leopold ranks third on the team in points with 14 (5G-9A).

Goaltender Ryan Miller, who was in net for the United States when Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner for Team Canada in the Gold Medal Game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in February, missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury. Before Saturday, Miller had played in four straight contests, including making 34 stops in Friday’s 4-2 win over Los Angeles. His status for Wednesday is uncertain.

The team also has a group of forwards that has been heating up as of late, spurring the team to a 5-5-1 record in the month of November. Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek, who have each spent their entire NHL careers to date with the Sabres, have combined for 15 points over the past five games. Vanek is riding a career-high seven-game point streak (4G-6A) that ranks second among active streaks behind Crosby’s nine-game streak, while Roy leads the team in all offensive categories.
  • Wednesday’s game marks the end of the Penguins’ fifth annual ‘Dad’s Trip.’ With Monday’s 3-2 win over Florida, the Penguins now own a 6-3 all-time record on the trip. A victory on Wednesday would give the Penguins their second consecutive sweep with their dads in tow, as the team earned a perfect 2-0 record last season with wins over Phildelphia and the New York Rangers.
  • Crosby led all National Hockey League players with 118,755 votes during the first week of voting in 2011 NHL All-Star Fan Balloting. The center owns the NHL’s longest active point streak with 20 points (9G-11A) over the past nine games, dating back to Nov. 5. It is the fourth-longest streak in the league so far this season.
  • Seven other Penguins also received votes during the opening week of voting, with defenseman Kris Letang ranks third among all write-in candidates. Letang, who is third in defenseman scoring with 19 points, has earned the eighth-most votes (50,153) among blueliners. Forward Evgeni Malkin, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, forward Max Talbot and defensemen Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Alex Goligoski also received a substantial amount of votes.
  • After being sent to Pittsburgh at trade deadline last March, where he posted 8 points (4G, 4A) in 20 games for the Penguins, Leopold signed a free-agent contract with the Sabres on July 1. The defenseman has found his stride, tallying four points in his past five games, including tying a career-high with three assists on Nov. 13 vs. Washington, and leads the team in minutes-played with 24:01. His five goals and nine assists are tops among Sabres blueliners.


Secondary Contributions: In Buffalo’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff said his team focused too much on containing players like Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. While the Sabres kept Stamkos (who is tied with Crosby for the league scoring lead with 35 points) off the scoresheet for just the third time this season, they still lost the game. Contributions from players like the Penguins’ third line of Mark Letestu, Tyler Kennedy and Chris Conner (who scored the GWG in Monday’s 3-2 win) must continue.

Solid Defense:
Buffalo has scored just 20 times in the past eight games, but has outshot their opponents in six of those contests. Players like Zbynek Michalek, who logged 21:16 minutes of ice time (including 6:09 on the penalty kill) on Monday and leads the team with 34 blocked shots, will be key to holding off the Sabres’ attack.

C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to 3 weeks)
LW Rob Niedermayer, knee (two weeks)
RW Drew Stafford, upper-body (day-to-day)
C Tim Connolly, groin (day-to-day)
G Ryan Miller, groin (day-to-day)
Crosby (15) Roy (9)
Crosby (20) Roy (14)
Crosby (35) Roy (23)
Engelland (44) Gaustad (37)
Letang (+9) Montador (+14)
Crosby (6) Vanek (4)
Cooke (2)
Johnson (6-2-1) Miller (6-6-2)
Johnson (2.11) Miller (2.62)
Johnson (.927) Miller (.909)

Marc-Andre Fleury - While Crosby has been scoring on opponents, Fleury has been denying them. Fleury, who started the season with a 1-6 record, has found his stride, making some key saves down the stretch to preserve the Penguins’ 3-2 win over Florida on Monday. He is now 5-0-1 in his past six games with a 2.11 GAA and a .922 save percentage and has made 25 or more saves in five of those matches.
Thomas Vanek - Vanek extended his point streak to a career-high seven games by tallying Buffalo’s only goal in their 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. The center has scored in two consecutive games, and three of his last five. His eight goals, nine assists (tied) and 17 points all rank second on the team. Vanek has been a steady offensive producer for the Sabres, posting 48 or more points in each of his past five seasons with Buffalo.

Penguins Report: Florida Practice 11/23/10        
Pittsburgh Magazine features Sidney Crosby on Cover of December Edition              
Penguins Crosby Tops All Vote-Getters In First Week Of All-Star Fan Balloting                
Sidney Crosby, Duncan Keith Top All Vote-Getters In NHL All-Star Fan Balloting, Presented By XM                       

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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