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Sharpen Up: March 21, 2017

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

It had been a while since the Sabres last won consecutive games at Joe Louis Arena. In fact, they won the first five games they played there beginning when it opened midway through the 1979-80 season, and hadn't won't two in a row since. 

With The Joe closing its doors after this season, the Sabres had one last chance to end that drought when they paid their final visit to the historic arena in downtown Detroit last night. They got the job done with a 2-1 win over the Red Wings. 

The focus quickly shifts to tonight, when the Sabres will host Sidney Crosby and the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at KeyBank Center. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B, with puck drop set for 7 p.m.

 We'll get you caught up on last night and prepared for tonight. Here's what you need to know as we conclude yet another set back-to-back games.

 

About last night

Video: Duffer's Recap: BUF at DET (03/20/17)

Jack Eichel and Matt Moulson both scored power-play goals and the Sabres went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in their win over the Red Wings. It was a good enough performance from the power play for Buffalo to leap frog Toronto back into the No. 1 spot at 24.0 percent on the season.

Chris Ryndak was on hand in Detroit and has more in last night's post game report. 

Eichel, meanwhile, continued his torrid scoring pace. He's scored 50 points since making his season debut on Nov. 29. Only seven players have scored more points in that span, and we're talking names like Crosby, Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid. 

If you take that a step further and only go back to Feb. 1 - when Eichel really started to pick it up - his 29 points are tied with Brad Marchand, second only to Patrick Kane in the entire NHL.

Meanwhile, Moulson's goal continues what has been a strong season for him on the power play. His 11 power-play goals are tied for the seventh-most in the NHL, and the most by a Sabre since Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford in 2010-11 (thanks @SabresPR). 

Lastly, Brady Austin made his NHL debut on defense and tallied three shots in 15:37. He made his presence felt early with this hit in open ice:

Tweet from @NHLonNBCSports: .@BuffaloSabres' new kid Brady Austin has got HITS ������ pic.twitter.com/kmRPGX862R

Austin, Eichel, Dan Bylsma and Robin Lehner all spoke after the game, which you can watch below.

Video: Austin: Postgame Interview at DET

 Video: Eichel: Postgame Interview at DET

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview at Detroit

Video: Lehner: Postgame Interview at DET

 

Rubber match with the Penguins

It's safe to say the Sabres have a bad taste in their mouth with the way their last meeting with the Penguins played out. That was earlier this month, when the Sabres took a 3-0 lead out of the first period in Pittsburgh only to go on to lose 4-3. Marc-Andre Fleury entered the game in relief of Matt Murray in net and shut down the Buffalo offense for the final 40 minutes. 

Still, Buffalo can take the season series with a win over the Penguins tonight. As always, that means they'll have to slow Crosby, who enters the game as the reigning NHL Second Star of the Week after scoring six goals and eight points in three games, including a hat trick against Florida on Sunday.

The Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin; he's day-to-day with an upper-body injury and did not make the trip. Defensemen Olli Maatta and Kris Letang also remain out due to injuries. 

 

St. Patrick's Day at KeyBank Center

The parade is now behind us, but why not have one more night of St. Patrick's Day festivities and make it for charity? The Sabres will wear green St Patrick's Day jerseys during warmups tonight, which will be auctioned off immediately following the game at sabres.com/auction

Autographed St. Patrick's Day themed pucks will also be sold prior to the game for $20 in the 100 level concourse. Proceeds from both the pucks and the jerseys will benefit the Sabres Foundation.

 

The Buffalo Beauts are in the house

Fresh off of winning the 2017 Isobel Cup (awarded to the champion of the National Women's Hockey League) with a win over Boston on Sunday, the Buffalo Beauts will be in attendance tonight to meet fans and sign autographs on the 100 level. Stop by to congratulate them on their championship. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Congrats again - We look forward to honoring the @BuffaloBeauts at tomorrow's Sabres game! https://t.co/0o5q5WxOOu

 

On Tap

The Sabres will not hold a morning skate, so look for pregame updates from Dan Bylsma around 4:30 p.m. Also keep an eye out for our weekly Amerks Update, which will be posted to the site this afternoon.

As always, check back after the game tonight for highlights, reaction and more in our Lexus Postgame Report.

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