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Buffalo Sabres Hope to Spark Streak with Pittsburgh Penguins in Town

February 17th, 2013 at 8:30 AM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101
If – and that's a big if – the Buffalo Sabres can get the kind of performances seen in Friday's win over Boston, then there just might be hope for the 2013 season.
Buffalo scored three straight third-period goals to beat down Beantown, 4-2. Ryan Miller continued his stellar play, but more importantly the skaters around him stepped up. Drew Stafford finally scored his first goal of the season, Tyler Myers had two points and Buffalo got its first win without a point from Jason Pominville or Thomas Vanek since March.
'Ryan Miller' photo (c) 2012, grilled cheese - license:'Ryan Miller' photo (c) 2012, grilled cheese - license:
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Friday's game was a major test to pass in determining if there's hope for this season, and today's tilt against the Penguins (12:30 p.m., NBC) is no easier. Buffalo is still in last place in the Northeast Division (6-8-1) and welcomes a red-hot Penguins team that's won seven of its last nine games and ranks in the top 10 in both goals for and goals against.
Miller made 30 saves Friday and has stopped 136 of 144 shots in the past four games. He's happy to do his part and touted his teammates' ability to come back and take control of Friday's game:
"Stay in the game. That's what you have to do in this league, you have to stay there. You can get it to overtime and, in our case, we came all the way back and took a lead. That’s what you have to do. I was really impressed. The guys played a great third period, really stepped up and did a nice job."
Myers, in particular, took some big steps. he scored a beautiful goal during which he pinched from the point, soaring down the ice to bang in a rebound. In his second game back from a two-game benching for poor play, Myers said a two-point effort is exactly what he needed:
"A lot of it is confidence that is coming back. Still a lot to go."
Slowing down the Penguins (10-5-0) will prove whether the Sabres are a threat to return to the playoffs this season. Pittsburgh scores 3.1 goals a game and converts 27.6 percent of its power plays, good for second in the league.
Sidney Crosby leads the Penguins with 21 points. James Neal has 11 goals and is one of four Penguins with at least five goals, along with Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 7-3-0 record with a 2.27 GAA.
Despite Miller's recent hot streak, Buffalo has still surrendered the most goals in the NHL this season with 50. To Buffalo's discontent, Pittsburgh is far better on the road this season (7-2-0) than at home (3-3-0).
Sunday's Sabres telecast is part of NBC's "Hockey Day in America" celebration. The tripleheader also includes the Kings and Blackhawks at 3:30 p.m. and, on NBC Sports Network, the Capitals and Rangers at 6 p.m.
Twitter users are encouraged to use the hashtag #HockeyDay and share tweets and photos with @NHLonNBCSports. Tweets can also be sent to the Sabres at @BuffaloSabres.
Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL