STAFFORD OUT AS SABRES LOOK TO WIN IN PITTSBURGH
PITTSBURGH – Visiting teams don’t typically have a lot of success at Consol Energy Center.
On home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone 14-1 in their past 15 games. They’re 39-10 at home over the past two seasons and no team has more wins at home during that stretch.
However, in the past two seasons, only three teams have beaten the Penguins twice at Consol Energy Center: the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres won on both April 2 and 23, 2013.
Buffalo hopes to pick up their first victory in Pittsburgh this season Monday night.
“That’s an understatement that tonight will be a challenge,” Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said after the team's morning skate. “They’re a quality hockey team, a lot of really good players on that side. But we played really well the other night in Columbus and we’re just going to try to keep the ball rolling.”
The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m.
Drew Stafford will not play with an upper-body injury. He missed four games earlier this month with the same injury and Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said after the morning skate that Stafford re-aggravated it Saturday night in Columbus. Nolan doesn't expect Stafford to miss as many games this time around.
Before the game Saturday, Stafford had been on quite a roll. He recorded three goals and two assists in the three previous games.
Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Sabres. Nolan’s reasoning is simple: Go with your best goaltender against the best team in the Eastern Conference.
“I just know how good he is and you play him as often as you can,” Nolan said. “You look at, especially this year going into the Olympics and monitoring our play time between both goaltenders. If you look at Miller’s numbers lately, it’s been pretty effective. He’s a little bit more well rested and in return, he’s playing much better.”
After taking his usual reps during the team’s morning skate at Consol Energy Level, Miller skated down to the other end of the ice and started working with the forwards. One by one, each forward skated in on a breakaway. The extra work was for a good reason.
The Penguins are 4-0 in the shootout this season. They’ve won nine-straight shootouts and 14 of their last 15. Since Feb. 26, 2011, Pittsburgh has won 22 of 25 shootouts.
The Sabres are 6-4 in the shootout this season.
Nolan played 18 games for the Penguins during the 1985-86 and shared a story with the media about Mario Lemieux, who was only 20 at the time.
“I remember sitting down next to Mario and they had a poster night. I asked him to sign it and he asked, ‘For who?’ And I said, ‘To me,’” Nolan said laughing. “And I still have it at home. It says, ‘To Teddy.’ That’s it.”
Lemieux finished that season, his second in the NHL,with 48 goals and 93 assists.He finished second in scoring to Wayne Gretzky, who had 215 points – or 74 more than Lemieux.