Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – If teams wanted to replace the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their window of opportunity may be closed.
After a 4-0-1 start, the Pens went plummeting down the standings, losing seven-straight games. Since then, the Pens are 10-2-2, including a three-game winning streak.
In those 14 games, Sidney Crosby had nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points, while Jake Guentzel got himself going with 16 points. Crosby is the team’s leading scorer with 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points.
In Buffalo’s 6-3 win over Pittsburgh back on Nov. 2, Crosby was held without a point. Sabres head coach Don Granato makes sure he gets the defensive pair he wants out there against Crosby.
“It’s a group effort," said Granato ahead of Friday night's tilt. "You have to minimize your own mistakes, you have to take care of pucks, and make sure you’re starting from your goal line out and you’re changing before you’re tired. So you need to pay attention to details, and that has to be the case.”
Pittsburgh has gotten stellar goaltending from Tristan Jarry, going 7-0-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. Overall, Jarry is 11-3-3 this season with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.
The Penguins are now 10th in the NHL with a points percentage of .615. Buffalo has gone 5-2-1 in its last eight games, but are still 24th with a points percentage of .481.
The Sabres now lead the NHL averaging 4.00 goals per-game. Tage Thompson is fourth in league scoring with 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 points. Thompson’s 21 goals is third.
After his five-goal game on Wednesday in Columbus, Thompson has eight goals and six assists for 14 points in his last five games.
Dylan Cozens has three-straight games of three points, and 11 points in four games. Cozens has points in 18 out of his 26 games, and hasn't gone two games without a point all season.
Alex Tuch is quietly shredding the scoresheet. In his last 11 games, he has 17 points. Meanwhile, Jeff Skinner has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in eight games.
Craig Anderson usually gets the first game of a back-to-back series, and he hasn’t played since Nov. 30 in Detroit against the Red Wings. In his last four games, Anderson is 2-1-0 with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6 p.m. EST when they’ll be joined by Granato, Thompson and Peyton Krebs.