Sabres Host Penguins as Both Teams Come Off Big Wins Against Blue Jackets
Reverse retro jerseys return - can Buffalo keep the energy going?
Buffalo Sabres (12-13-1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-4)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Penguins Blog: Pensburgh
Know Your Opponent
Record: 14-8-4 | 32 PTS
Last Game: 4-1 Victory vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Division Ranking: 3rd in Metropolitan Division
PP: 26th (18.4%)
PK: 7th (81.7%)
What to Watch
1. Tage is All the Rage
The offensive production from forward Tage Thompson thus far this season has been, in a word, monumental. Did you catch Wednesday’s game? Wow. He tied the league record for most goals in a first period at four with Joe Malone (1921), Grant Mulvey (1982), and Peter Bondra (1994), respectively. Thompson also became the second player in franchise history - after Dave Andreychuck in 1986 - to score five goals in a single game. Thanks to his effort (and let’s not forget talent), this was Buffalo’s highest-scoring game since 2018 and Thompson is now third in the league for goals scored with 21. Interestingly enough, the Sabres are first in the NHL with goals scored but still rank close to the bottom in the Atlantic Division in wins - three points behind the Canadiens and Panthers. What will Tommer do tonight to keep the momentum going?
When Pens head coach Mike Sullivan was asked about playing Thompson, he replied with “We are going to try and stop him from scoring five goals.”
2. Do Not Sleep on the Pens
The Penguins have historically been a solid team, especially in the last 15 or so years. During this season, they have had some ups and downs - including a long losing streak just like the Sabres - but have battled back as of late and are third in their division. Sidney Crosby has continued to prove his elite status by leading his club (not surprisingly) with 15 goals and 35 points and is especially dangerous at even strength. The 35-year-old is on pace to tally more than 100 points this season if he keeps it up and remains healthy, which would be his best season statistically since 2018-2019. The Sabres will want to watch him and his linemates more closely than usual tonight as most of his goals and assists have occurred at five-on-five.
3. Take Advantage of the Struggling Powerplay
Though the Pens are great, their powerplay has been lackluster as even their captain struggles to produce with the man advantage. Through the first 22 games of the season, Pittsburgh went just 12-for-72 and currently sits 26th in the league for production with the extra skater. It has improved slightly in the last few games, but at one point they missed 12 consecutive opportunities and had a tough time simply getting shots on the net. It appears head coach Sullivan has been trying to clean this up during practices this week, but the Sabres may want to take advantage of this shortcoming while they can. A shorthanded goal never hurt anyone.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Victor Olofsson - Tyson Jost - Casey Mittelstadt
Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Kyle Okposo
*Vinnie Hinostroza is still day-to-day.
Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson - Casey Fitzgerald
Goaltenders: Craig Anderson (expected), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Jake Guentzel - Sydney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Danton Heinen - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
Brian Dumoulin - Jan Rutta
Pierre-Olivier Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
Goaltenders: Tristan Jarry (expected), Casey DeSmith