The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup last season without
the benefit of home-ice advantage in two of their four series, and
their ability to win on the road hasn’t disappeared.
The Penguins embark on a four-game trip looking for their fifth
straight win and seventh in eight games away from home Tuesday
night against the Buffalo Sabres, their most recent road
Pittsburgh (26-12-1) closed out all four of its postseason
victories on the road last spring – twice overcoming 2-0 series
deficits to win a Game 7 – and was victorious in its first seven
games away from home this season.
Four losses by a combined 19-2 during an injury-plagued stretch
in November followed, but the Penguins are back to their solid form
with six wins in their past seven road contests.
Five of those have been by one-goal margins, including a 2-1 win
at Buffalo (23-11-4) on Dec. 19 on Kris Letang’s shootout goal.
That lifted Pittsburgh to 14-3-1 in one-goal games, but it
dropped a rare tight contest in the finale of a three-game
homestand Sunday against Toronto. Michael Rupp tied the score at 3
with 2:15 left in regulation, but Ian White’s goal less than a
minute later lifted the Maple Leafs to a 4-3 win.
“Our execution wasn’t there,” said Sidney Crosby, who snapped a
three-game drought without a goal. “We wanted to work hard and we
did work hard. Maybe we didn’t work as smart.”
The Penguins have won five of six at HSBC Arena, but they didn’t
have to face Ryan Miller earlier this month.
Miller – 21-8-3 with a 1.98 goals-against average – has not
fared well recently against Pittsburgh. The likely starter for the
US Olympic team is 2-2-1 with a 4.14 GAA in his last five starts
versus the Penguins.
“I watch the highlights every morning,” Penguins goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury told the team’s official Web site. “… I think
everybody knows he has always been a great goalie. It’s no surprise
he is doing this well.”
Fleury is 3-0-1 with a 2.16 GAA in Buffalo, but with a trip to
division rival New Jersey looming Wednesday, coach Dan Bylsma
indicated Brent Johnson could start despite being 0-4-0 with a 7.73
GAA against the Sabres since the end of the 2004-05 lockout.
Buffalo backup Patrick Lalime was solid against his former club
when the Penguins last visited, and he was in goal Sunday against
St. Louis. Lalime made 32 stops and Tim Connolly and Mike Grier
each had two goals and an assist in a 5-3 victory.
“We didn’t play well (Saturday) night,” said Grier, referring
to a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa. “I think we all kind of felt
anxious coming into the game tonight and the guys battled. I think
it took us a while to find our legs, but we battled and hung in
Grier has tallied five of his 14 points over the last three
Derek Roy, who leads the Sabres with 30 points, missed Sunday’s
game with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Winger Drew
Stafford, who hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 27, was a healthy
scratch, but is likely to be back Tuesday.
Despite the Penguins’ road success, they’re converting only 11.5
percent of the time with the man advantage. Buffalo, meanwhile, has
killed all but one of its opponents 29 power plays over its past 10
The Sabres are 10-1-4 in one-goal games.