While they continue to pace the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins would like to avoid another road loss before the Olympic break. They're also hoping to see Sidney Crosby break out of his slump.
Visiting the league-worst Buffalo Sabres would seem to provide the Penguins and Crosby a good opportunity to accomplish both goals Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh (39-15-2) has built significant leads in the conference and Metropolitan Division by going 24-6-1 since Nov. 26. All but one of those seven defeats have come on the road, where the Penguins have lost two of three.
They totaled one goal in those two losses and were limited to 24 shots in each, including a 3-1 defeat in Phoenix on Saturday. Pittsburgh came back to outshoot Ottawa 48-25 two days later and won 2-1 on James Neal's overtime goal.
Crosby, however, failed to record a point for the second straight game. The NHL points leader hasn't gone three in a row without one since a five-game drought Oct. 31-Nov. 10, 2009.
He hasn't scored a goal in five straight, dropping into a tie with Chris Kunitz for the team lead with 27. Coach Dan Bylsma said his captain has played well despite the goal drought.
"He's 100 percent," Bylsma said. "He was our best player on both sides of the puck, (Monday) and I thought he played an excellent game regardless of whether he got a point or not."
Crosby had his only multipoint performance in the last five games with two assists in a 3-0 win over Buffalo on Jan. 27. He has nine goals and 17 assists during a 16-game point streak versus the Sabres and has never been held without a point in 13 visits to Buffalo.
Pittsburgh has won eight straight over the Sabres with Crosby on the ice, and he's totaled 10 points in the last four.
Buffalo has allowed at least three goals in 10 of 11, going 2-6-3, and has given up a combined 25 goals during a seven-game home losing streak.
The Sabres (15-32-8) opened this month with a 7-1 loss in Colorado on Saturday, two days before losing 3-2 at home to West-worst Edmonton.
Buffalo failed to score in the final two periods Monday despite a 31-16 shots advantage. Drew Stafford had given the Sabres a 2-1 lead after the opening frame with a short-handed goal in his return from an upper-body injury, which forced him to miss four games.
Marcus Foligno had a potential tying goal with 10:25 left waved off after the referee ruled the whistle had blown before the puck went in.
"We played pretty well today. We created a lot of scoring chances, and should have scored more than two goals," forward Linus Omark said.
Defenseman Tyler Myers sat out the third period after hurting his right leg, and his status is unknown for this game. Buffalo is also missing forward Matt Moulson (upper body).
Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang has missed the past three games due to an illness and might not be available.
The Penguins have won two straight and nine of 12 in Buffalo.
The Sabres are 1 for 28 on the power play in the past 11 meetings overall but have scored with the man advantage in four straight games.
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