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Sharpen Up: April 18, 2021 | Another afternoon match with Penguins awaits

Pregame coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on MSG

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Get ready for another afternoon game between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Pittsburgh won yesterday's game 3-2 and the two clubs will meet again at 3 p.m. today at KeyBank Center. Catch the action on MSG and WGR 550. Pregame coverage begins at 2:30 on MSG.

We'll hear from head coach Don Granato before the game on lineup news and other updates. Will goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen make his NHL debut or will Dustin Tokarski go back-to-back after making 38 saves yesterday? 

Stay tuned to, the team's social media channels and the new Sabres app for that and more. 

Here's what you need to know. 


A look back at yesterday afternoon

Video: BUF Recap: Thompson, Mittelstadt score in 3-2 loss

It took the Sabres some time to find their rhythm yesterday, but they hung in fought their way back to make it 3-2 with 8:16 left in regulation on Casey Mittelstadt's power-play goal.

"They were coming at us hard," Mittelstadt said. "They're an old, experienced team. They know how to play. I think we felt it out a little bit too long and you saw once we got going, we started making plays and getting pucks behind them and getting them back."

Pittsburgh took the lead with 9:30 remaining in the first period and outshot Buffalo 12-6 in the opening 20. The Penguins went up 2-0 at the 5:57 mark of the second period, but just 44 seconds later Tage Thompson cut the deficit to one. 

Video: POSTGAME: Mittelstadt

Video: POSTGAME: Thompson

Pittsburgh scored with the man advantage midway through the second period. Mittelstadt then tallied in the third to give Buffalo some life. They had some Grade-A opportunities with the extra attacker in the final 90 seconds. 

The Penguins ended up outshooting the Sabres 41-30.

"They were very willing to just put a puck to the net. We were the opposite," Sabres interim head coach Don Granato said. "We wanted to make one more play before we put it to the net. And that makes the game really hard. You expend a lot more energy. You end up chasing the game."

Check out more in our Postgame Report.

Video: POSTGAME: Granato

Before the game, the Sabres announced that Kyle Okposo would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing successful surgery on a broken bone in his cheek. 

"He's such a great communicator to us, to the teammates," Granato said. "Everybody looks up to him. So, we definitely lose a big portion of that. He's a guy that's around all the time and I'm sure he'll still be helping us in many respects."

Added Mittelstadt: "He's been everyone's rock pretty much. It hurts to see, for sure."

Linus Ullmark is also week-to-week with a lower-body injury and his season is also in jeopardy.

Buffalo's injury list includes Okposo, Ullmark, and forwards Jack Eichel, Riley Sheahan and Zemgus Girgensons, defensemen Jake McCabe and William Borgen, and goaltender Carter Hutton.

With the loss, the Sabres were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Today's matchup

From the Game Notes, courtesy of @SabresPR:

  • Mittelstadt has totaled nine points (7+2) in his last ten games and leads all Sabres in both goals and points during that stretch.
  • Mittelstadt is tied for sixth in the NHL with six goals during the month of April.


  • Dylan Cozens has four assists in his last four games.


  • Rasmus Dahlin's five even-strength points and six total points in the month of April tie him for 11th and 16th, respectively, among all NHL defensemen during that stretch.


  • Tage Thompson's second-period goal yesterday gives him goals in consecutive games for the second time this season (Last: April 8 and 9).


  • Today's game wraps up Buffalo's 12th of 14 sets of back-to-back games this season, which began yesterday with a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh. 
  • The Sabres are 3-9-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 1-9-1 in the second game so far this season. 
  • Buffalo's point breakdown in previous back-to-back sets is: four points (0), three points (1), two points (3), one point (0) and zero points (7).


On yesterday's Pride Game

Video: Sabres/Penguins joint Pride Game intro video

The Sabres and Penguins co-hosted the NHL's first-ever joint Pride Game on Saturday with the goal of bringing together two cities to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities by sharing stories of inclusion, hope and allyship.

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Special warm-up threads for our Pride Game. 🏳������🌈🏳������������Bid now:

Players from both teams taped their sticks for pregame warmups with rainbow tape and took the ice wearing commemorative pride warmup jerseys featuring the Progress Pride Flag. Official Pride Game warmup pucks with a distinct colorful design were used by both teams in pregame warmups. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Follow us and retweet to win a special Pride Game puck from warm-ups today!��Rules:

The Penguins and Sabres are also co-hosting a seven-day online auction featuring pride tape sticks, commemorative warmup jerseys and pucks, various signed items from both teams and more. The auction is now live and runs through April 24 at 12 p.m. To view the pride auction, visit this site.

In Buffalo, fundraising efforts will benefit Pride Center of Western New York (Pride Center WNY) and GLYS. Pride Center WNY is a health promotion organization specializing in LGBTQ+ health and HIV prevention. 

The Sabres and Penguins will donate 100 tickets for the game to LGBTQ+ organizations and each fan in attendance will receive a Pride Game rally towel on their seat. 

Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus sang the anthems before the game.
Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Thank you to the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus for performing today's anthems for our Pride Game!

Watch: Youtube Video

You Can Play hosted a panel discussion focused on hockey from the perspective of LGBTQ+ participants with ties to Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The discussion was hosted by Jonas Worth from You Can Play and the panel featured Buffalo referee Alex Valvo, Pittsburgh Tigers manager Adam Knoerzer and NHL player agent Bayne Pettinger.

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