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Sabres travel to Pittsburgh for a two-game finale against the Penguins

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Buffalo is 1-5-0 against their East Division foe this season

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 53

Buffalo Sabres (15-32-7) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (35-16-3)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | PPG Paints Arena | Pittsburgh, PA

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Penguins Blog: Pensburgh

Know Your Opponent

Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: (35-16-3)

Division Ranking: 2nd in East Division

PP: 7th (23.5%)

PK: 25th (77.5%)

What to Watch

1. Keep The Good Times Rolling

Well, sort of. Though in the grand scheme of things the 2020-21 season has been disappointing for the Buffalo Sabres, there are reasons for joy as of late. Michael Houser has posted unlikely back-to-back wins in his first two NHL starts. Young players like Dylan Cozens, Casey Mittelstadt, and Rasmus Asplund continue to contribute offensively.

In general, the Sabres are just fun to watch. There’s nothing to play for, but you wouldn’t know it. Whether it be the minor-league journeyman netminder looking to make the most of his NHL opportunity, or a smattering of young players looking to set the tone for next year, the Sabres haven’t checked out by any means.

2. Houser in the House

For the third consecutive game, Houser will get the nod for the blue-and-gold. At 28 years old, to call his NHL aspirations “unlikely” would have been an understatement. The fact that he’s managed two straight victories after not playing competitive hockey in over a calendar year is even more astounding. In his two-game debut he’s posted a .940 save-percentage.

While nothing he does over these last few games will cement him another NHL look, he may just turn some heads for AHL teams looking to add a veteran presence for next season. If nothing else, he is an incredible story in a year where the good has outweighed the bad.

He’s an underdog’s underdog. You just can’t help but root for him. Hopefully he keeps the magic rolling tonight.

3. Just Let Loose

Look, the Penguins (like several other teams) have had the Sabres number all year. Buffalo has managed just one win against them in six contests to date. Since Krueger’s ousting, these two clubs have played a couple of very tight contests.

With just two games left on the schedule, it would be nice to see Buffalo double-down on their high-event approach and give the fans some entertaining hockey against a very talented opponent.

Projected Lineup

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Anders Bjork - Sam Reinhart - Victor Olofsson

Jeff Skinner - Dylan Cozens - Arttu Ruotsalainen

Rasmus Asplund - Casey Mittelstadt - Tage Thompson

Brett Murray - Riley Sheahan - Drake Caggiula

Defense

Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller

Starting Goaltender: Michael Houser

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen

Jared McCann - Jeff Carter - Frederick Gaudreau

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Colton Sceviour

Defense

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Mark Friedman - Cody Ceci

Marcus Pettersson - John Marino

Starting Goaltender: Tristan Jarry