Are Sabres, Penguins heading in different directions?

Buffalo faces a Pittsburgh team on Wednesday that has lost five-straight games

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in the first installment of "Reverse Retro" night. Buffalo will wear their 2022 rendition of the "Reverse Retro" look for the first time, which is white.

Pittsburgh comes limping in on a five-game losing streak, but their home loss on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins had to have been devastating.

Penguins forward Rickard Rakell scored at the 11:36 mark of the second period to give Pittsburgh a 5-2 lead. However, Boston went on to score the next four goals, including Hampus Lindholm's overtime-winning goal.

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Tristan Jarry was in goal for Pittsburgh, so it’ll likely be Casey DeSmith for Pittsburgh on Wednesday. DeSmith is 0-2-1 this season with a 2.97 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. However, against Buffalo in his career, he’s 3-1-2 with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

Pittsburgh is running into some injury problems, as defenseman Kris Letang and center Jeff Carter missed Tuesday's game.

Sidney Crosby leads the Pens with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 10 games. In 53 career games against Buffalo, the Penguins captain has 25 goals and 52 assists for 77 points in 53 games.

Evgeni Malkin also kills the Sabres with 20 goals and 41 assists for 61 points in 47 games.

No matter who you are, if you’re a forward for the Sabres, you’ll likely see either Crosby or Malkin at some point in the game.

“You’ve got to be aware when they’re out there. They’re elite players, two of the best players of all-time," said forward Casey Mittelstadt following Wednesday's morning skate. "We have a lot of respect for those two guys, and we want to realize that they’re out there, but we want to stay aggressive. You want to limit their time and space. We know they’re going to make some plays, but we’re going to try to make some plays too.”

Sabres head coach Don Granato doesn’t look at a five-game losing streak, he looks at what they Penguins are.

“They’re a very experienced efficient team, so they keep the game simple," said Granato following Wednesday's morning skate. "They can exploit mistakes very quickly, because they’re specifically targeting that. Poised and waiting for you to make a mistake, so they recognize mistakes quicker than most teams by virtue of their experience. And they can execute it quicker by virtue of their skill.”

Granato doesn’t think the Penguins are slipping and are going to be easy. He expects this Pittsburgh team to be mad.

"There’s never an easy game when you play them, and their reputation precedes itself in a very powerful way,” Granato said.

Pittsburgh has fallen to seventh in the Metropolitan Division, but it’s so tight, they’re only two points out of fourth place, three points out of third and four points out of first.

The Penguins can still score goals, as they’re fourth in the NHL averaging 3.70 goals per-game. Buffalo is scoring 4.11 goals per-game, which is second overall.

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The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games against Pittsburgh, and 3-7-0 in their last 10 at home against the Pens.

Sabres goalie Eric Comrie appears to be getting his second-straight start in goal, and fourth start in five games. Last time out against the Detroit Red Wings, it was a quiet night, as he won making 15 saves on 18 shots.

Overall this season, Comrie's numbers haven’t been impressive, as he’s 3-3-0 with a 3.34 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.

Tage Thompson had his best game in the NHL against the Red Wings, netting three goals and three assists for six points. Buffalo’s top center has nine points in his last two games.

Buffalo will still be without the injured Ilya Lyubushkin, Mattias Samuelsson and Henri Jokiharju on the blue line. Meanwhile, Vinnie Hinostroza and Jeremy Davies will be the healthy scratches.

Wednesday night's game is a radio only game. Join the Bulldog for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6:30 p.m. ET when you’ll hear from Granato, Mittelstadt and Craig Anderson.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
Featured Image Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports