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Sabres vs Penguins Game Preview: A Losing Streak Must End

Sabres and Penguins meet for first time this season

NHL: Preseason-Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Game #18

Buffalo Sabres (5-9-3) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-7-3)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | PPG Paints Arena | Pittsburgh, PA


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Penguins blog: Pensburgh

What to Watch

1. A losing streak will end.

To some surprise, both the Sabres and Penguins enter tonight's game on losing streaks. Buffalo has lost two consecutive games and three of the last five games. Pittsburgh has also lost two games in a row and overall, four of their last five games.

One way or another, someone's losing streak is going to end tonight. Will it be the team in blue and gold?

2. Multiple players out of the lineup.

Evan Rodrigues remains out of the lineup with a hand injury; Jacob Josefson is also out with a lower-body injury. In addition, defensemen Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Ristolainen both remain on injured reserve with lower- and upper-body injuries, respectively.

Meanwhile, Justin Bailey was activated from IR on Monday and assigned to Rochester.

Defenseman Marco Scandella didn't practice on Monday. Coach Phil Housley said he was "under the weather" but anticipated him being able to play on Tuesday.

3. Sabres struggle in Pittsburgh.

The Sabres haven't won in the 412 in... well, a while. The team is looking for their first win in Pittsburgh since the 2012-13 season. The last time Buffalo won in Pittsburgh: April 23, 2013, a 4-2 win that saw Thomas Vanek score twice, and Jochen Hecht and Steve Ott also each score.

Of course, both teams have changed dramatically since then; only a few players from that game remain on the Penguins (Letang, Malkin). Two of the Sabres from that game - Kevin Porter and Chad Ruhwedel - now play for Pittsburgh.

Last season, Pittsburgh won two of three games in the season series between the two teams.

Know Your Opponent

1. Second-worst in goals-against.

The Penguins are second, only behind the Coyotes, in goals-against this season. Through 19 games, they've given up 68 goals. That includes 11 games where their opponent has scored three or more goals.

(In comparison, the Sabres have given up 60 goals in 17 games.)

Of course, just because they're giving up goals, doesn't mean they aren't also scoring them. Pittsburgh's goal differential is a minus-18 heading into tonight's game. While the Sabres are waiting for their first 20-point player, the Pens have two in Phil Kessel (22 points) and Evgeni Malkin (20 points).

2. Goaltending a (potential) struggling point.

Let's face it, ever since the Pens lost Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights, they've had some struggles in net.

Matt Murray has been decent in the hotbed for Pittsburgh, with a 9-4-1 record and 2.90 GAA and .906 save percentage in fifteen games played. But the Pens have had to cycle through some backups, including Antti Niemi, who played only three games with the team; Tristan Jarry, who's appeared in two games, and Casey DeSmith, who's appeared in one game.

3. Finally homeward bound.

The Pens have played most of their season so far on the road, with only six of 19 games so far at home. Though they haven't played much at home yet, they've been good when they are at PPG Paints: 5-0-1 on the season.

Tonight's game against the Sabres brings the Pens home for a nice stretch. They'll now play 13 of their next 19 games at home. That time includes two more games against the Sabres - in Buffalo on December 1, then in Pittsburgh the following night.

That will then wrap up the season series between the two teams.

Projected Lines:

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart

67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

26 Matt Moulson - 22 Johan Larsson - 29 Jason Pominville

13 Nick Baptiste - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 17 Jordan Nolan

25 Seth Griffith

6 Marco Scandella - 41 Justin Falk

19 Jake McCabe - 27 Taylor Fedun

4 Josh Gorges - 82 Nathan Beaulieu

93 Victor Antipin

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner