Even though the Pittsburgh Penguins have already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and are playing with an injured list that reads like an All-Star team, they show no signs of slowing down in the games leading up to the postseason.
The Pens take aim at an eighth straight victory on Tuesday night as they play host to the Buffalo Sabres in a rescheduled game from this past weekend.
There isn't much on the line for Pittsburgh ahead of the postseason, though the Penguins do still have a chance at catching the Chicago Blackhawks in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Pens are three points back of the NHL- leading Blackhawks with three games left to play for both teams.
While Chicago lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night, Pittsburgh notched a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators thanks to 34 saves by Tomas Vokoun, who became the 28th goaltender in league history to reach 300 career wins. He did so in his 700th NHL appearance.
Dustin Jeffery had a goal and an assist, while Jarome Iginla and Tyler Kennedy also scored as Pittsburgh won for the 22nd time in its past 24 games. Brenden Morrow added two assists to the win.
"This is one week or whatever it is until the playoffs and we want to go in with good habits and keep trying to get better and honestly, just keep winning," Iginla said. "Winning is fun, right? Whatever the two points mean in the standings, or whatever it is, it's fun winning and playing well as a group and finding a way. We're getting great goaltending, there's no question, but guys are playing hard. Our PK was very good tonight, too."
Vokoun wasn't the only player to reach a milestone. Pens coach Dan Bylsma became the fastest head coach in NHL history to record 200 wins. He did so in his 316th game, 10 quicker than Bruce Boudreau.
"I will," said Bylsma when asked if he would remember this win. "When you look at career numbers for coaches, I'm not sure where 200 ranks. I've got a long way to go when it comes to some of the other good coaches. But I'm certainly happy to have gotten it and I got the puck."
Pittsburgh rolled to yet another win despite playing without Sidney Crosby (broken jaw), James Neal (concussion), Paul Martin (hand surgery), Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Kris Letang (illness) and Beau Bennett (upper body).
Also, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury missed the game while awaiting the birth of his child.
The Penguins have won nine of their last 12 versus the Sabres overall and five of the past seven at home. This game was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was bumped back to tonight after Pittsburgh's contest against the Boston Bruins was moved from Friday night to Saturday afternoon due to the city-wide lockdown during a manhunt on Friday for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings over a week ago.
The Sabres will try to avoid a third straight loss after dropping last night's 2-1 home decision to the Winnipeg Jets. Jhonas Enroth kept his club in the game with 37 saves, while Thomas Vanek scored his 18th goal of the season in defeat.
"Jhonas was excellent tonight," said Sabres forward Steve Ott. "I thought he stood on his head and stopped close to 40 shots. We needed him to be good and he was probably our best player tonight. It's too bad we fell on the short end of things."
Enroth is 4-1-1 in his last six starts with a 1.47 goals against average and .956 save percentage.
Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta missed the game with a hand injury suffered during Friday's 8-4 setback to the New York Rangers.
The Sabres are playing their final road game of the regular season and wrap their schedule at home versus the New York Islanders on Friday.