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Pens-Sabres Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (1-0-0) vs.
SABRES (0-2-0)
WHEN: October 5, 2013 - 7:00 p.m.  |  WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins Radio 24/7, 105.9 FM

Season series: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres are meeting for the first of three times this season. The Sabres won two of last season's three-game series, with both wins coming in Pittsburgh.

Big story: A Sabres team that has scored just once in two games comes to CONSOL Energy Center to face a Pittsburgh club that didn't allow a goal in its opener. The Sabres have lost 2-1 on the road to the Detroit Red Wings and 1-0 at home to the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Pittsburgh tries for its second win in as many games after blanking the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Thursday night.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Ryan Miller has stopped 77 of the 80 shots he's faced in Buffalo's two games; all he has to show for his efforts are a pair of losses. Miller stopped 45 shots on Friday, only to see Erik Karlsson score with 95 seconds left in regulation to spoil the Sabres' home opener.

"That's not a fun way to lose, especially in our [home] opener," he said. "We wanted more energy and try to create some confidence here. We're going to make some mistakes. We have to come together as a team here. Would've been nice to grind one out and get an ugly one. You just have to gain points where you can get them. I just needed to make one more save there. It's disappointing."

Penguins: Pittsburgh shut down New Jersey behind a 27-save performance in the opener, but the Penguins didn't emerge unscathed. All-Star forward James Neal left in the first period with an upper-body injury that coach Dan Bylsma said is more week-to-week than day-to-day.

Neal's absence will mean a different dynamic for Evgeni Malkin; the two have developed excellent chemistry.

"When you think about Evgeni's line, [Neal] is a stable in there," Bylsma said Friday. "They go together in terms of that line, how they play together, what James does in support of 'Geno.' That's not going to be there."

Jussi Jokinen will continue to center for Malkin; Beau Bennett took Neal's spot on Thursday and may be there Saturday as well. Chuck Kobasew could also see some time on that line, and Malkin could play with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on occasion.

"I'm ready. I'm excited to play," Malkin told the Penguins' website. "The first game I was a little bit nervous. I played all right. I can play better and will play better."

Injury report: Buffalo is missing forwards Ville Leino (broken rib), Marcus Foligno (shoulder) and Corey Tropp (broken rib). … Neal won't play for a while. Defenseman Kris Letang (lower body) is on injured reserve. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun is on long-term injured reserve and will miss at least three months after undergoing treatment to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis.

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