The Sabres are looking to halt their four game losing streak in a rare Sunday afternoon home game against Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins on hockey day in America. The Sabres are coming off a heart breaking shootout loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night after rally to tie it up in the third.
The only lineup change to report at this point is that Thomas Vanek was re-united with Derek Roy and Jason Pominville on the top line in practice today. Vanek was benched for half a period in Friday’s game for taking an inexcusable offensive zone penalty.
Aside from the blowout in Pittsburgh, the only other meeting between these teams this season came way back on December 15th. The Sabres won the game 3-2 with Stafford scoring the winning goal. After Sunday the Sabres will play the Penguins one last time on March 30th.
Speaking of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the have been rolling as of late going 6-3-1 in their last 10 and most recently defeated the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday afternoon. A large part of the Penguins success without Sidney Crosby can be attributed to the play of Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin currently leads the NHL with 70 points and is second in the league in goals with 32. The last time these two teams played, Malkin had a five point night (2G, 3A) in an 8-3 victory.
The Sabres currently sit dead last in the conference but surprisingly are within single digits of the eighth place Toronto Maple Leafs, pending the outcome of tonight’s game. A Leafs and Capitals loss combined with a Sabres victory on Sunday would push them to within 7 points of that final playoff spot.
It doesn’t look to promising for the Sabres right now, but a mini winning streak combined with some faltering from the Leafs and Capitals and the Sabres could find themselves within four or five points of eighth place.
If this were to happen the Sabres management team might consider themselves buyers as oppose to sellers. All of this is hypothetical but one thing that is for sure is that the Sabres season and the direction they take at the trade deadline will come down to their performance in the next seven to ten days.
Puck drop for this game is scheduled at 12:30 EST. Because this game is part of the Hockey Day in America program, fans will have to view the game on NBC or listen in on WGR 550.