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Sabres game day: Latest road test is a meeting with Sidney Crosby's Penguins

Sabres game day: Latest road test is a meeting with Sidney Crosby's Penguins

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Buffalo Sabres forward Dylan Cozens and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby chase a loose puck during the first period in April 2021.

Matchup: Buffalo Sabres (6-6-2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (5-5-4)

Where: PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh)

When: 7 p.m.

TV: MSG in Western New York

Radio: WGR 550

PITTSBURGH – Don Granato knows the momentum swing will occur Tuesday night in PPG Paints Arena. It's inevitable, especially on the road against a talented opponent.

The Buffalo Sabres' success, or lack thereof, will hinge on how they respond. The Penguins have allowed six goals in each of their past two games, including a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

But the Sabres would be wise to not expect a flat performance from the Penguins. After all, this will be Sidney Crosby's second game back in the lineup. Crosby has totaled 24 goals and 73 points in 50 career games against Buffalo.

While the Penguins are seventh in the Metropolitan Division, they've played most of the season without key cogs. Center Evgeni Malkin has yet to play in a game this season.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are winless in six of their last seven and own a 1-4-1 record on the road. There was some improvement in their last road game, a 5-3 loss at Washington last Monday, followed by impressive showings against Edmonton and Toronto. The Penguins, though, are nearing full strength and typically play well at home.

"We’ve had some preparation if you think about playing Ovechkin last week, then McDavid-Draisaitl and Matthews and Tavares," said Granato. "It’s fun to play top players. It’s fun to play in this league. Obviously, extremely, extremely competitive, but when you’re competitive people like we have in the locker room it’s great to play against great players. We’re excited for that. I know they’re going to be ready for us tonight. They’re a competitive group that probably hasn’t liked their past two results and they’re coming back home, so it will be a great challenge for us."

Goalie: Dustin Tokarski is expected to start in goal for the Sabres. Tokarski, 32, has a .908 save percentage in seven starts this season. The Penguins, meanwhile, will turn to Tristan Jarry, who has a .918 save percentage in 11 appearances.

Lineup: Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons did not participate in the morning skate but is expected to be in the lineup, Granato said. If Girgensons can't go, winger Brett Murray will appear in his fourth career NHL game. Murray had two assists in five games with Rochester.

Here's a look at how the Sabres lined up during the skate:

Injury report: The Sabres will be without winger Victor Olofsson (undisclosed), center Casey Mittelstadt (upper body), defenseman Henri Jokiharju (lower body) and goalie Craig Anderson (upper body).

Impressive stretch: Sabres winger Jeff Skinner has four goals and two assists for six points in his last six games. His three multipoint games this season are tied for the team lead. Skinner's three-point game Saturday against Toronto was his first since Nov. 3, 2018. He has totaled five goals and nine points in 14 games this season. For context, Skinner had only seven goals in 53 games last season.

Familiar foe: Former Sabres center Evan Rodrigues leads the Penguins in goals (6) and points (11). He filled in as the team's top-line center when Sidney Crosby and Jeff Carter were out of the lineup. His 16:57 average ice time per game is on pace for a career high. 

Recent struggles: The Penguins went 7-1 against the Sabres last season, outscoring Buffalo 31-14 during that span. The Penguins have earned points in 26 of the last 29 meetings between the two teams.

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News Sports Reporter

I've covered the Sabres and National Hockey League for The Buffalo News since November 2018. My previous work included coverage of the Pittsburgh Pirates and University of Pittsburgh athletics for DKPittsburghSports.com.

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