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Buffalo Sabres Look for Second Shocker Against Pittsburgh Penguins

January 27th, 2014 at 11:00 AM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

The Buffalo Sabres ended their five-game streak Saturday night in the unlikeliest of ways, snapping the Columbus Blue Jackets' eight-game winning streak in Ohio.

Now, to begin a winning streak the Sabres will have to pull off a similarly shocking performance against the Eastern Conference's best team.

'Ryan Miller' photo (c) 2011, grilled cheese - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Sabres enter Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network) with fewer than half the points in the standings (35) as the Penguins (74). They also face a team coming into the contest on a 7-2-1 streak and a commanding 17-point lead in the Metropolitan Division.

Of course, the Sabres didn't let long odds deter them Saturday from posting perhaps their most convincing victory of the season. Their five goals were a season-high for Buffalo during regulation in any game this year. The performance also extended the team's streak to six straight game in which it's scored at least three goals.

That is, by far, Buffalo's best offensive streak of the season. The Sabres' 20 goals in that span represent 21 percent of the goals they've scored the entire season (97 goals in 50 games).

But a revival of the team's goaltending led to Saturday's win, Buffalo's first in six games despite the offensive outburst. Ryan Miller made 36 saves to pick up the win.

"The whole game here tonight was Ryan Miller," coach Ted Nolan said. "I thought he was sensational again. We had some luck on our side tonight. The puck went in enough to win."

The Sabres will probably need the puck to do the same thing Monday to stand a chance. That will be a tall task, though, against Marc-Andre Fleury, who at 28-12-1 and a 2.31 goals-against average might be one of the front-runners for this season's Vezina Trophy.

Even if they do keep their offensive streak, they'll be hard-pressed to slow Pittsburgh's fourth-best offense (3.2 goals per game). Sidney Crosby leads the team (and NHL) with 72 points. He (27 goals) and Chris Kunitz (25 goals) give the Penguins two 25-goal scorers, with James Neal (17 goals) and Evgeni Malkin (14 goals in 41 games) not far behind.

The Sabres will likely be without Drew Stafford, who went down Saturday with an upper-body injury.

 

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Drew Stafford, Evgeni Malkin, Hockey, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Miller, Sidney Crosby, Ted Nolan

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