PITTSBURGH -- The Sabres will be in PPG Paints Arena Saturday night at 7 for a rematch with the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. And you can forget about worrying about a win. Job one in this game is to score a single goal. Buffalo has been shutout in three straight games for the first time in its history and is carrying a shutout string of 180 minutes, 51 seconds into the contest.
The Penguins are trying to win four straight games for the first time this season. It's the start of a five-game homestand they're banking on to make up some ground in the Metropolitan Division. The Sabres are 1-8-2 in their last 11 games (bless the ineptitude of the Edmonton Oilers).
Other than those inglorious bits of minutiae, here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:
1). Pens mightier than Swords even when they're behind: Pittsburgh is 13-0-1 in its last 14 games against the Sabres and has won seven straight home games against them. But the Sabres have given the Pens fits here of late: The last three games have all seen Buffalo take leads of two or three goals but fritter the game away.
March 29, 2016 -- Sabres lead, 3-0, but lose in shootout, 5-4
March 5, 2017 -- Sabres lead, 3-0, but lose in regulation, 4-3
November 14, 2017 -- Sabres lead, 3-1, but lose in overtime, 5-4
2). Botterill returns -- New Sabres GM Jason Botterill will make his first appearance with Buffalo back in Pittsburgh, where he won three Stanley Cup rings with the Penguins from 2006-2017. Botterill was not here for the previous matchup because he was attending NHL GM meetings in Montreal. The Penguins are expected to salute Botterill on the jumbotron during the game.
3). Fasching is up: The Sabres did not appear to have any injuries Friday night but have called up forward Hudson Fasching from Rochester. Perhaps it's an effort to get more jam in front of the opposing net, which has oddly become a no-skate zone for Buffalo forwards. Fasching, who has played 17 NHL games over two stints with the Sabres, is tied for the team lead in goals at Rochester with six.
4). Numbers games: Pens captain Sidney Crosby has points in 26 of his last 28 games against the Sabres dating to Dec. 29, 2007. In that span, he has 14 goals, 32 assists and 46 points. ... Tonight will be the Penguins' 496th straight sellout (counting playoff games). ... It was 48 years ago today -- Dec. 2, 1969 -- that the NHL announced it would expand to Buffalo and Vancouver for the 1970-71 season. ... Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella will play in his 400th NHL game tonight. ... The Buffalo power play is 0 for 22 over the last eight games.
5). Lineup news: With a back-to-back, teams often go with their backup goalie in the second half. The Sabres will go with Chad Johnson tonight after Robin Lehner took the loss Friday but the Penguins have to decide if they will stick with rookie Tristan Jarry, who made 34 stops Friday. There was some talk they could give Casey DeSmith his first NHL start in a game against the league's worst offense but Jarry's shutout may have killed that chatter.
The Sabres are scratching Matt Moulson (no points on the season, minus-9 in 14 games) so Fasching can play. Josh Gorges gets back into the lineup for Victor Antipin, whose turnover created the Tom Kuhnhackl penalty shot goal Friday night. Antipin has no points and no shots on goal in the last three games.