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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Sharpen Up: March 25, 2021 | Buffalo has match with Pens again tonight

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The Buffalo Sabres are back in action tonight. They’ll wrap up a back-to-back set on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

The game will be on MSG at 7 p.m. with pregame coverage starting at 6:30. Listen live on WGR 550.

Pittsburgh won 5-2 last night. Rasmus Dahlin and Victor Olofsson scored while Dustin Tokarski made 37 saves.

The loss put Buffalo’s winless streak at a franchise-record 15 games (0-13-2). The team last recorded a point on March 9 and hasn’t won a game since February 23. The Sabres are 6-21-4 on the season.

Here’s what you need to know. 

A look back at last night

Video: BUF Recap: Tokarski makes 37 saves in defeat

The Sabres found themselves down 2-0 early, but Dahlin cut the deficit to one late in the first period. Pittsburgh scored twice in the second and again in the third to go up 5-1 before Olofsson’s penalty shot goal with 5:25 left in the game.

Olofsson’s goal was the Sabres’ first successful penalty shot attempt since Jack Eichel beat Oilers goaltender Mike Smith on January 2, 2020. It was also the first penalty shot attempt of Olofsson’s career.

Tokarski made his first NHL start since December 21, 2015.

The Sabres have allowed at least 40 shots against in consecutive games. 

Check out the full recap here.

Video: POSTGAME: Ristolainen

“I don’t think we play very smart,” defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen said. “We make really stupid mistakes that lead to way too many odd-man rushes every game, and a team like Pittsburgh, they have skill up front and they had way too many odd-man rushes. I think we should keep it very simple.”

Video: POSTGAME: Olofsson

“I think we got to play a little bit smarter,” Olofsson said. “We’re working hard but maybe not as efficient as we want to. Just got to be a little bit more calm out there and read the play a little bit better. I think that will go a long way.”

Video: POSTGAME: Lazar

“We’ve got to understand that playing skill-based hockey when you’re in a slump, it’s not going to cut it,” forward Curtis Lazar said. “We have to get back to the basics and really just will our way to a win. Build a game, make the other team earn every chance they get. Right now, we’re making it too easy.”

Video: POSTGAME: Granato

“You don’t have to open it up,” interim head coach Don Granato said. “But to play with pace and to adapt to that, it may open up until you actually understand how to not do that and not open it up. I’m generalizing here, but that’s the quest for us as coaches. 

“And I do believe it’s part of a natural process when you’re trying to move in that direction is, yes, you’re going to give up some things. You’ll start picking up the patterns of how to not expose yourself in those situations. So, again, not shocking to me that this is part of a process.”

Injury updates

Before pregame warmups last night, the Sabres announced that forward Tage Thompson would miss the game due to an illness. Buffalo skated with seven defensemen. Granato did not have an update on Thompson after the game.

Rasmus Asplund left the game 6:08 in with an injury and did not return, leaving Buffalo with just 10 forwards for a majority of the contest. He’s unlikely to play tonight.

Winger Tobias Rieder and goaltender Carter Hutton were also scratched due to injury. Right wing Kyle Okposo was placed on injured reserve. Okposo and Hutton are not on the trip with the team.

Forwards C.J. Smith and Steven Fogarty are options off the taxi squad. 

Tonight’s matchup

From @SabresPR’s Game Notes:

  • The road team has won six of the last seven meetings between Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
  • The Sabres have gone 2-1-0 in each of the last two seasons against the Penguins, winning consecutive season series against Pittsburgh for the first time since 2005-06 and 2006-07. If Buffalo wins this year’s series, it would be the first time it has won three consecutive season series against Pittsburgh since 1979-80 to 1981-82.
  • The last eight meetings between the Sabres and Penguins have been won by the team who scored first.
  • Tonight’s game wraps up Buffalo’s ninth of 12 sets of back-to-back games this season, which began with a 5-2 loss last night at Pittsburgh. 
  • The Sabres are 2-7-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 1-7-0 in the second game so far this season. 
  • Buffalo’s point breakdown in previous back-to-back sets is: four points (0), three points (0), two points (3), one point (0) and zero points (5).

Cap of Hope goes on sale today

Video: Designing the Sabres Cap of Hope 2021

Riley Greene, Greg Frazier and Dr. Philip McCarthy helped design this year’s Buffalo Sabres Cap of Hope in partnership with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and New Era.

The cap is available to purchase online at ShopOneBuffalo.com.

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