Five Things to Know as Sabres visit Pittsburgh Penguins - The Buffalo News

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Five Things to Know as Sabres visit Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH – The Sabres are going to have to buck a lot of unsightly trends if they want to get back in the win column.

Here are Five Things to Know as Buffalo visits the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

1. Paint a sad picture

People in Pittsburgh love coming to PPG Paints Arena, selling out 490 straight games. The Sabres do not like coming to the building.

The Sabres have lost six straight in Pittsburgh. Overall, the Penguins are on an 11-0-1 run against Buffalo.

Pittsburgh is 5-0-1 at home this season and plays 10 of the next 13 in PPG Paints Arena.

"Even with Detroit, it was fun coming into this arena," said Penguins and former Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan. "Their passion for hockey games is definitely noticeable, so it's going to be fun playing at home for a little bit."

2. Sidney Crosby owns Buffalo

The Penguins' captain has points in 24 of his last 26 games against the Sabres. He has 12 goals, 30 assists and 42 points during the run, which dates to Dec. 29, 2007.

"You play these guys, and they're high-end skill and talent," Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges said. "You've got to try and take their time and space away. You have to be in their face early and make them make tough plays. They're going to make plays. They're going to go out there and do what they do. They're the best in the game, but you've got to try to make life as miserable as possible.

"It's definitely a collective thing. You can't rely on one D pair or one forward line to go out there and just say, 'You guys get the job done.' It's the five guys on the ice collectively."

3. Still no goals

The Sabres are still looking for a goal from their defensemen. Everyone has a zero.

The morning-skate pairs were Marco Scandella-Justin Falk, Jake McCabe-Taylor Fedun and Gorges-Nathan Beaulieu. Victor Antipin is likely to be the healthy scratch.

"That's obviously one area we need to improve," Buffalo coach Phil Housley said of the defensemen's goal total. "We've done a pretty good job if you look at the last three or four games of our D getting shots through to the net. We've had some really good looks. They haven't found a bounce here or there, but we've got to continue to harp on that.

"We've got to get shots through. Guys are going to the net now, paying a price. It's going to happen. It's going to hit a shin pad. It's going to create a second opportunity, and it's going to open up defenses."

When hard effort goes unrewarded, it can be frustrating for the Sabres and Jack Eichel

4. Shoot

The Sabres are 5-9-3, including 0-1-1 in the last two. They are 0-7 when they don't reach 30 shots.

"Probably more so than anything, games like this when you're playing those guys, you've got to play in their end, make them play 200 feet away from our net," Gorges said. "So you can't have the turnovers in the neutral zone. You've got to force them to play some tough defensive minutes, limit their opportunities to make plays."

The Sabres' forward lines were:

Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Benoit Pouliot-Ryan O'Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Matt Moulson-Johan Larsson-Jason Pominville
Nick Baptiste-Zemgus Girgensons-Jordan Nolan

Seth Griffith will be the healthy scratch.

5. Call it a comeback

Even if Buffalo starts hot, don't count out the Penguins. Pittsburgh has erased 3-0 deficits in their past two home games against the Sabres. The Penguins picked up a 4-3 victory in March and a 5-4 shootout win two seasons ago.

Robin Lehner will start in goal for Buffalo, while Pittsburgh will go with Matt Murray.

"Obviously, they're back-to-back champions," Housley said. "But when I look at the Pittsburgh Penguins, they're a fast team, and they compete very hard and they battle. For not a real big team up front, they are able to get on pucks and they compete. We have to be ready for that battle."

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