Puck Previews: Penguins visit Sabres; Jimmy Howard returns for Red Wings

Here are your Puck Previews: Spotlighting the key games in NHL action, news and views as well as general frivolity. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.

Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres, 7:30 p.m. ET. The Sabres have not played against Sidney Crosby since Dec. 2010 and with the Penguins coming off two losses in a row to the New York Islanders, Buffalo will have their hands full as they try to gain a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals in their game in-hand tonight. After playing last night, there's a good chance that Brent Johnson will make his first start in 17 games for the Penguins. Ryan Miller, who has won five in a row and allowed six goals over that span, should get the call for the Sabres.

Preview: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings, 8 p.m. ET. It's looking more and more like these two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs with the only question of who will have home ice advantage. Jimmy Howard returns to the Detroit net after missing four games with a groin injury. Kyle Quincey is slated to be scratched as Mike Babcock makes sure his defensemen each get some action heading into the postseason. Martin Erat, Jordin Tooto and Roman Josi are all expected back in the Predators' lineup.

Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. ET. With four games left, the Flames aren't out of contention for a bottom-8 spot in the Western Conference, but time is running out quick. Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings was deflating and might have been the unofficial nail in their coffin. Semyon Varlamov should be in net for Colorado making his seventh straight start and looking to snap a four-game skid.

Check out previews and updated scores for all of today's games on the Y! Sports NHL scores and scheds page. For tonight's starting goalies, check out Left Wing Lock.

• Today's Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast with John Shannon.

Evening Reading

• Here are your playoff clinching scenarios tonight for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. [NHL.com]

• Good read on Paul Henderson and his battle with lymphocytic lymphoma chronic leukemia. [Sportsnet]

• Jeff Carter left the Kings' morning skate today with his foot in a walking boot and handling crutches. [LA Kings Insider]

• After taking a charge from Jason Chimera last night, Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid will miss their trip to New York this weekend and both games against the Islanders and Rangers with a swollen eye. [CSN New England]

Puck Daddy Reader Comment of the Day: Via Steve Whyno:

Dale Hunter on catcalls as a coach: "They called me fat" on Long Island.

Bold Prediction: Jimmy Howard gives Detroit a 3-point lead over Nashville with a 2-0 shutout of the Predators.