Tuesday night the Buffalo Sabres convincingly defeated the Washington Capitals to overtake them for the eighth and final playoff spot. Since then, the Capitals defeated the Bruins in a shootout Thursday night to tie Buffalo in points. Buffalo still holds the eighth seed due to having a game in hand. That game in hand comes tonight, in Buffalo.
Buffalo isn’t the only team in a race for a playoff position; Pittsburgh (100) is trying to better their position as well. They are currently seeded fourth, but trail the New York Rangers (105) only by five points for top spot in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh didn’t get the results they were hoping for in their past two games, falling to the New York Islanders 5-3 in back to back games. All things considered, we know that this game will not be a cake walk for the Sabres.
In the month of March, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno have been on fire for the Sabres. These three have combined for 19 goals, 42 points in 37 games. But every team has their hot stars. For Pittsburgh Malkin has scored 10 goals and 21 points, including a goal yesterday that put him at 100 points for the season, the first player to do so.
The hottest player during Buffalo’s five game win streak has been netminder, Ryan Miller. Having a 1.20 goals against and a shutout to help propel Buffalo into the eighth seed. On the other end of ice is Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is having a good month as well. In March, he is 8-2-1 with a 2.22 goals against starting 11 of 14 games played.
Since the Penguins played last night, Buffalo is expected to face Brent Johnson. Johnson on the season is 3-7-2 in 13 games played, with a 3.37 goals against and a .882 save percentage. He is coming off a month long injury so he will be a fresh goalie, but at a full 100%, that is unknown. Against Johnson this season, Buffalo is 1-0 scoring 3 goals on 12 shots in the convincing 6-2 win last month.
A big stat line that bodes well for the Sabres is their record against opponents who played the night before. In those nine games, Buffalo is 8-1-0 against opponents who are in the second game of a back to back.
Some notable injury scratches for both teams tonight…
PIT: Kris Letang (Lower Body), Matt Niskanen (Upper Body), Ben Lovejoy (Knee)
BUF: Christian Ehrhoff (Knee), Matt Ellis (Knee), Nathan Gerbe (Upper Body), Jochen Hecht (Concussion)
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pmEST from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.
TV Scheduled: Root (HS), MSG-Buffalo (HD)