The Pittsburgh Penguins look to add another valuable win to their total against the Buffalo Sabres tonight. They’ve been sharp recently, with wins in five of their previous six games. That’s exactly what they need in the midst of a playoff race. With their recent surge, the Penguins are putting some separation between themselves and the first team out, the Montreal Canadiens.
At 85 points, the Penguins have moved off a wildcard and are now 3rd in the Metropolitan. The Hurricanes have fallen back as a wildcard with 83 points. Columbus are the last team in with 81 points, as they’re in a heated battle with the Canadiens at the moment. It’s a highly competitive conference. The Pens are 38-23-9, though they are barely in the playoffs. In the NBA a record below .500 might be good enough to play playoff ball.
Pittsburgh must stay focused in Buffalo. The Sabres have been playing some poor hockey recently, and it could take a team to take them lightly to get out of a rut. It doesn’t really matter at this point. The Sabres have already busted their opportunity to finally get back to the playoffs, so their results are all rather elementary the rest of the season.
The Sabres are 12 points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In other words, stick a fork in them this season is over and done with. It’s terrible for a guy like Jack Eichel, who was expected this to be the Sabres breakout season. Eichel has performed like an All-Star, along with Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart, but only three forwards putting in all of the work isn’t going to translate to success as a team. A solid goaltender would also help, because they haven’t gotten the same production from Hutton or Ullmark as the season has progressed. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Sabres pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
The Sabres enter on a five-game losing streak and are losers in 11 of their last 13 games. I think they took a look at the standings and realized it’s going to be too difficult to make a comeback, so they flat out mailed it in. That isn’t the type of culture that any team wants to have, and if there is anyone most disappointed with this lack of effort, it has to be Eichel. He has registered 72 points, which is well ahead of everyone else in Buffalo.
Skinner and Reinhart are contributing with 58 points as well. Back checking and contributing in their own zone has become a lost art for the Sabres. Hutton and Ullmark could be playing better, but their teammates have to help out as well. Buffalo have slipped to 23rd with an average of 3.16 goals against per game. In their last ten outings, they’ve allowed an average of 3.4 goals per game. And their defence gets worse at home, as they have surrendered 3.29 goals per game in Buffalo. Pittsburgh have no issues scoring on the road, so it may be a long night in that respect for the home team.
The Sabres come out victorious with a 4-3 win against the Pens in their last meeting. They won in overtime in the prior meeting as well, with a 5-4 win credited to the Sabres. At least they’ve have something to look back on positively if they can dispatch the Penguins again tonight. Yeah, that’s not much to be happy about considering how well they were playing at one point this season.
The Sabres have failed to score a goal in their last two outings. Their offence has found success against the Pens this season, though, with 9 goals in their last two meetings. On the contrary, I don’t have much faith in the Buffalo defence here. The Pens just took care of the Bruins’ defence and then followed it up with another nice showing vs the Caps. They are getting in a groove and it likely continues this evening. I’d go with the OVER at even money on Thursday night.