Published November 20, 2014
With the recent struggles of the Sabres' power play, the Penguins might not mind skating a bit shorthanded in today's matinee at Buffalo given the performance of Pittsburgh's penalty kill on Saturday.
The Pens look to secure sole possession of the Eastern Conference's fourth seed this afternoon and deal the Sabres a season high-tying fifth straight defeat in the process.
Pittsburgh will take the ice one day after besting Philadelphia 6-4 on Saturday. The Penguins scored a pair of short-handed goals in the big win, getting one from Jordan Staal and another while down two men from Matt Cooke.
Cooke ended with two goals and also set up Dustin Jeffrey's go-ahead tally early in the third, while James Neal added his career-high 30th goal of the campaign.
"Our focus is to kill [the penalties] first," Cooke said. "Obviously when given the opportunity or given the chance to go on the offense, we want to do that."
Pittsburgh has won three of four overall and moved into a tie with Philadelphia for second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the overall conference standings with 71 points.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves as the Penguins improved to 6-2-1 in their last nine on the road.
Buffalo will have to be mindful of Pittsburgh's penalty killers as it tries to get its power play going. The Sabres have just one goal on their last 27 chances on the man advantage and failed on all three power plays in Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Canadiens.
Ryan Miller made 16 saves on 19 shots through overtime and was bested twice in the shootout.
"No excuse not to get two points right there," said Miller. "We had opportunities and I need to make a save at some point in the shootout."
Robyn Regehr, Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis found the back of the net for the Sabres, who have lost four straight. That is one off their longest losing streak of the season set from Jan. 14-21. Buffalo's 55 points on the season now has it tied with Carolina for the fewest in the East.
Buffalo lost the opener of a four-game homestand.
The Sabres and Penguins have split a pair of meetings so far in Pittsburgh this year, though the Pens came away with an 8-3 win in the last encounter on Dec. 17. Evgeni Malkin, who leads the NHL with 70 points, logged a hat trick and two assists for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins have won seven of their last eight versus the Sabres as well as two in a row and four of their last five in Buffalo.
Neal, meanwhile, will take the ice for the first time since it was announced on Sunday morning that he had signed a six-year extension with the Penguins. Acquired last year from the Stars, Neal's new deal begins next season and has an average annual value of $5 million.