GDT#78: SABRES (38-29-10) vs PENGUINS (47-24-6) – FRI MAR 30 – 7:30PM ET – MSG-B, ROOT (Full Story)
(AP) – The Buffalo Sabres' longest winning streak in over two years has them charging into a playoff spot, but a key
injury creates another obstacle.
The Pittsburgh Penguins' run at first place in the Eastern Conference has stalled.
The Sabres will need to withstand the absence of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff if they're going to regain sole
possession of eighth place in the East when they host the Penguins on Friday night.
A 6-2 home victory over Pittsburgh on Feb. 19 started a 14-2-3 run for Buffalo (38-29-10), which has won five straight
to move into a tie with Washington for the conference's final playoff spot.
The Sabres have a game in hand on the Capitals, and beat them 5-1 on Tuesday for their longest winning streak since
a six-game run from Dec. 27, 2009-Jan. 8, 2010.
"It's a great thing because of the way we're playing," right wing Drew Stafford said. "We can control our fate now. We
know every game from now on is just like it's been the past month or so - it's must-win."
That job will likely be made more difficult with Ehrhoff out indefinitely after hurting his left knee when he knocked knees
with the Capitals' Troy Brouwer in the first period.
The defenseman's importance was evident earlier this season when he missed 11 games with a rib injury and Buffalo
"I think dealing with one injury is maybe better than what we had to deal with in the past," said coach Lindy Ruff, who
at one point was missing as many as nine regulars. "We have to deal with it. We have to face a little adversity, and we
need players to step up."
The Penguins were getting plenty of that during a 14-1-1 run that moved them within a point of the conference-
leading New York Rangers. They've cooled significantly since, getting swept in a home-and-home set with the last-
place New York Islanders following Thursday's 5-3 loss.
(Buffalo News) – Mike Weber, a Pittsburgh native, called his dad recently for a chat. Rick Weber said the locals have
been going crazy for the Penguins, especially now that Sidney Crosby is back.
"There's always excitement in that city when you've got as a good of a team as they do," Mike Weber said Thursday.
The Buffalo defenseman and his teammates get a chance tonight to see how good the Penguins are playing. On the
flip side of the puck, the Sabres get to show the Pens how good they are, too.
Two of the hottest teams in the NHL collide in First Niagara Center with plenty on the line. The Sabres are trying to
regain the Eastern Conference playoff spot they earned this week. The Pens are angling to claim the No. 1 spot in the
"It's going to be an extremely fun game," said Weber, who will return to the lineup in place of injured defenseman
Christian Ehrhoff. "It's really playoff hockey right now. Teams are ramped up and playing extremely solid. We've just
got to keep playing the way we've been playing."
The Sabres are on a run that borders on ridiculous. They have won five straight and are 7-0-2 in the last nine. That is
part of a 14-2-4 rally that dates to Feb. 17 and a 19-5-5 surge going back to Jan. 24.
Pittsburgh is one of the few teams that can go back even further for its streak. After losing Thursday at the New York
Islanders, it is 26-7-2 since Jan. 13.
FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT PRECEDES GAME AGAINST PENGUINS (Full Story)
(Buffalo News) – Fans who head to First Niagara Center tonight will get the chance to see two of the hottest teams in
hockey -- and get a chance to walk away with coach Lindy Ruff's tie.
The meeting between the Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins coincides with Fan Appreciation Night. The event will begin
at 5 p.m. with a free Party in the Plaza featuring local band Strictly Hip. Fans without tickets can stay in the plaza to
watch the game on two large video screens.
The Sabres Store will have fan-appreciation prices in effect throughout the night. Ticket-holders can take advantage
of family friendly food prices inside the arena from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The 50-50 raffle to benefit the Sabres' alumni and team foundations will have a guaranteed prize of at least $25,000.
Following the game, the players will give away the jersey off their back to winning fans in an on-ice ceremony. One fan
will receive a game-worn tie from Ruff. On-ice festivities before the game will include player awards voted on by the
Perry Street will be closed between Main and Illinois streets during the plaza party. The Illinois Street entrances to the
First Niagara Center parking ramp will remain accessible via South Park Avenue and Perry Street.
The Sabres have signed one of the top collegiate scorers in the nation, agreeing to a one-year, entry-level deal with
Brian Flynn worth $925,000. The center was captain of the University of Maine.
PENGUINS NOTEBOOK: STARTING GOALIE VS. SABRES UNCLEAR (Full Story)
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) – Coach Dan Bylsma hasn't announced who will be in goal tonight for the Penguins when
they play the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.
He even said Thursday that he "will consider" calling on Marc-Andre Fleury, who faced the New York Islanders
Thursday at Nassau Coliseum, three times in less than four days, as the Penguins follow up the games against the
Islanders and Sabres with one at home at 12:30 p.m. Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Still, the front-runner to start at the First Niagara Center appears to be veteran Brent Johnson, who missed 17 games
with an undisclosed injury before backing up Fleury Thursday night.
Johnson, who has not played since Feb. 19 in Buffalo, took part in the game-day skate at Nassau Coliseum, then
stayed on the ice for some additional work.
If the idea was to determine whether his sweat glands still function, he passed the test, because the perspiration was
pouring off him when he returned to the locker room.
"I got a good [workout Wednesday] and a really good one [Thursday]," he said. "If I get a chance to play [in Buffalo],
I'm going to take it.
"It's just a game where I have to step in there, if I do get a chance to play, and help the guys get a [victory. The
Sabres] are playing really well, so I think it would be a really good challenge for myself."
Above, LW1 is #82 Marcus Foligno. Matt Ellis (knee), Nathan Gerbe (upper body) and Mike Weber were scratched in
Buffalo's last game, a 5-1 win over Washington on Tuesday. Jochen Hecht (concussion) also missed Tuesday's game
and remains out indefinitely along with Ellis and Gerbe. Christian Ehrhoff (knee) will also miss tonight's game after
knocking knees with a Washington forward in Tuesday's game. The Sabres are expected to start Ryan Miller in goal
tonight against the Penguins.
Buffalo are: 31-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals; 29-4-4 when scoring three or more; 21-4-6 when Derek Roy
records a point; 20-4-1 when Christian Ehrhoff records a point; 14-1-5 when Tyler Ennis records a point; and 7-1-2 in
their last ten games.
Dustin Jeffrey, Kris Letang (lower body), Ben Lovejoy (knee), Matt Niskanen (upper body), Richard Park and Joe Vitale
(upper body) were scratched in Pittsburgh's last game, a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Thursday. Letang will not play
tonight, as he did not make the road trip to Long Island or Buffalo. The Penguins are expected to start backup Brent
Johnson in goal tonight versus the Sabres.
Pittsburgh returned Brad Thiessen to AHL/Wilkes-Barres/Scranton on Thursday.
A win here is just absolutely huge. Winning against a team of this caliber and keeping pace above Washington would go a looooong way to keeping this push in their own pocket. Pittsburgh's had a bit of a rough stretch these past 4 games and I think they're gonna come out hungry, luckily they played last night and two out of the past 3 days.
This is the first match-up in quite a long while that actually worries me, but I still believe they'll win. If the Ennis line can be productive they'll have a great chance, with the help of some other guys chipping in, to take this one.
Pittsburgh native Mike Weber getting the start tonight and I expect him to be jacked. He's put a heavy hit on Crosby once before, I'm hoping he can do it again and make him groggy.
Pens should be tired on back-to-backs, 3 games in 4 nights, and Fluery started last night so Thiessen should start. Boston laid down for the Caps last night so it's only fitting that Pitt comes in worn out and ripe for a beat down.