Series (Game 3 of 4)

Pittsburgh leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, December 19th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 29th
Game 3: Monday, February 1st
Game 4: Tuesday, March 2nd

Sabres 4

(32-15-7, 71 pts)

Penguins 5

(35-21-1, 71 pts)

Coverage: NBCSN

7:00 PM ET, February 1, 2010

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
BUF 2 1 14
PIT 1 4 05

S. Crosby (Penguins - C): Goals: 3, Assists: 0

K. Letang (Penguins - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

T. Vanek (Sabres - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Sabres-Penguins Preview


The Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back from a poor performance by knocking off the team they beat to win the Stanley Cup last spring.

A series against their next opponent could be on tap this postseason.

Two of the Eastern Conference's top four teams meet Monday night at Mellon Arena, where the Penguins look to record rare back-to-back home wins and the Buffalo Sabres try to end a four-game road skid.

Pittsburgh (34-21-1) scored 1:34 into its game against Ottawa on Thursday but didn't score again, falling 4-1 for its second straight three-goal loss at home.

The Penguins looked much sharper Sunday afternoon even though they only scored once in regulation. They fired 47 shots at Detroit's Jimmy Howard, with Sidney Crosby scoring in the second period and again, along with Evgeni Malkin, in a shootout to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 victory.

The Penguins improved to 7-0 in shootouts -- 5-0 behind Marc-Andre Fleury -- and Crosby has converted a league high-tying six of his attempts.

"We were able to generate a lot," Crosby said. "We deserved to win that in 60 minutes, but they're a veteran team and they know how to win. ... We never expect any goalie (to hold us) to one goal in 40-some shots."

Pittsburgh, though, has won back-to-back games at home just once since the beginning of December, and it's 5-6-1 on home ice since Dec. 5.

Both meetings with Buffalo (32-14-7) have come at HSBC Arena, and each has gone down to the wire. Pittsburgh won 2-1 in a shootout on Dec. 19 -- Crosby's only failed attempt -- but the Sabres got revenge on Dec. 29, winning 4-3 behind two goals from Drew Stafford.

The Penguins built a 3-0 lead in that game and chased Ryan Miller, who saw 11 shots before being pulled early in the second period. Patrick Lalime made 27 stops the rest of the way.

If Monday's third game between the teams turns out to be an eventual playoff preview, the Sabres better hope Miller turns around his play versus Pittsburgh. Miller is 2-4-2 in his last nine starts against the Penguins, and has a 4.43 goals-against average in his past six outings in the series.

Miller took the loss in each of the Sabres' final four games of their seven-game road trip earlier this month, but he's back to looking like a front runner for the Vezina Trophy after two home contests. Miller stopped 39 shots Wednesday in a 2-1 shootout win over New Jersey, then had 30 saves in a 2-1 victory over Boston on Friday.

Buffalo has a five-point lead atop the Northeast Division over hard-charging Ottawa.

"It's big for us to come home and get four big points," Thomas Vanek said after scoring for a fourth time in seven games. "The last two years we learned that we lost a lot of games in the last 20 minutes and it cost us the playoffs. We put a lot of emphasis on that in training camp and we're doing a good job so far."

The Sabres are 10-2-3 when Vanek, their leading goal scorer with 16, finds the back of the net.

Pittsburgh is 17-6-0 when Crosby scores. He has an eight-game point streak against Buffalo, during which he's recorded three goals and seven assists.