After their recent back-to-back losses, Buffalo is eight points out of a playoff spot– the furthest they’ve been all year. The Pittsburgh Penguins are eyeing back to back victories coming off a 5-2 victory in Columbus on Tuesday.
The Penguins are 8-1 in the last nine meetings in Buffalo. The last time the two teams met, back in November, Buffalo won in a 5-4 OT thriller.
After starting the past four games for Buffalo, Carter Hutton is uncertain for the Sabres game after suffering a lower-body injury.
“Carter’s okay. Linus will be starting tonight,” Coach Phil Housley said Friday morning. “Scandella, after further evaluation, is still day-to-day.”
In the meantime, Brandon Montour has been getting adjusted to his new home.
“It’s my first time going through [a trade],” Montour said. “Just the new faces, a new coaching staff, seeing what it’s all about. This is my first time in the dressing room here so seeing what it’s all about and kind of feeling it out, get a routine and being ready for the rest of the year.”
Montour, who is believed to help kindle the struggling Sabres, said he feels “a lot of buzz” around the Sabres.
“You see the talent and you see how much these guys have improved this year. The experiences that I’ve had there are ups and downs. It’s not going to be straight to the top so you’re going to have those adjustments,” Montour said after practice. “If you lose a game you have to wash it out. You have to come back the next day and start all over. We have a little bit of a hill to climb but obviously, there’s the opportunity to do some big things in the next 20 games or so. So we have to take each game, game-by-game and see what we can do.”
“I like his attitude, he’s got a smile on his face, he loves coming to the rink, he enjoys playing the game,” Housley said. “I just love the speed element to his game, he attacks the game, he wants to make a difference out there. He’s been a breath of fresh air.”
Matt Murray will start in goal for Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Erik Gudbranson will make his Penguins debut Friday night. Gudbranson was acquired in a trade with Vancouver for Tanner Pearson prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.
The Penguins are currently tied in points (74) with the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the second Eastern Conference Wild Card spot.
“We have our destiny in our own hands and that’s encouraging from our standpoint,” Coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ve got a great opportunity, starting tonight, that we’ve got to make sure we take advantage of. That’s how we look at it.”