Sabres at Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are bidding that the comforts of home will help get both the team - and captain Sidney Crosby - back on track. The two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions look to avert a seventh loss in nine games overall on Tuesday when they host the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena, where the Penguins own a 5-0-1 mark this season.
"We definitely are excited for the fact that we're going to be here a little bit more,” said Crosby, who is mired in an 11-game goal drought. The two-time Hart Trophy winner has 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 34 career encounters against Buffalo, with two goals coming in three meetings last season. Buffalo's Jack Eichel, who tallied once versus Pittsburgh last season, is keeping optimistic despite failing to score in his last eight games overall. "You're going to go through ups and downs," the 21-year-old Eichel said. "Maybe fighting the puck, doing a little too much thinking. Just (need to) get back to playing – moving my feet, doing the things that make me successful. Just try to get engaged mentally and physically early."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG-Buffalo, SN1, AT&T Sports Network-Pittsburgh
ABOUT THE SABRES (5-9-3): Coach Phil Housley focused the bulk of Monday's practice at KeyBank Center attempting to improve the team's line changes. "I think our line changes have got to be a little bit sharper," Housley said. "Not just the change part - our lengths of shift can come down - but also when we dump it in, having a plan and a balance coming into that forecheck so teams aren't able to quick it up against us or get through the neutral zone quickly." Marco Scandella missed Monday's practice with an illness, but Housley expects the defenseman to be in the lineup versus Pittsburgh.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (9-7-3): Phil Kessel has answered a sluggish start to the season in the goal-scoring department by finding the net in each of his last three contests while extending his point streak to four (three goals, four assists) in Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to Nashville. Kessel assisted on the first goal of the season for defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who is welcoming a return home after the team played 13 of its first 19 games away from PPG Paints Arena. "Being on the road for that long, you miss your family, you miss everything you're accustomed to," Dumoulin said. "It's tough packing up and traveling to different cities, getting in late nights. It takes a toll and it's a grind, but it's good to have some home games here coming up."
1. Buffalo and Pittsburgh have permitted 23 goals in the second period this season, tying them for the third-highest total in the league.
2. Penguins D Kris Letang notched two assists on Saturday to move within one point of 400 for his career.
3. The Sabres assigned F Justin Bailey to Rochester of the American Hockey League on Monday.