Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

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The Pittsburgh Penguins, who host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, appear to be making a push to get into a playoff position, and they are doing it heavily on the back of their 36-year-old captain.

Pittsburgh has won four of its past five, is 8-2-1 in its past 11 games and is coming off a big win Thursday against one of the top teams in the league — thanks very much to center Sidney Crosby.

Shortly after Crosby was named to the All-Star Game for the 10th time, he scored the winning goal in the third period and had two assists Thursday in the Penguins’ wild 6-5 road win against the Boston Bruins. He also played at a high level all over the ice, including racing back to negate an icing call late in regulation.

That gave Crosby five points over the past two games. He leads Pittsburgh with 22 goals, putting him on pace for 49, and is second with 41 points.

“He’s the heartbeat of our team,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby. “He’s the guy that is the standard bearer. When the stakes are high, that’s when he’s at his best.

“He does the little things that help us win (and), obviously, the offense speaks for itself. … He leads the charge for our team.”

Crosby picked up his third game-winning goal this season on Thursday. He also is one of the top faceoff men in the league, winning a career-best 61.1 percent of his draws.

“This is remarkable. He’s doing it year in, year out, day in, day out,” Crosby’s linemate and team leading scorer Jake Guentzel (43 points) told The Athletic. “He’s such a special player and an even more special guy. This is something to watch right now.”

Buffalo, mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, could be running into a buzzsaw Saturday, but the Sabres are also coming off an inspired win.

Rookie goaltender Devon Levi made 32 saves in his first game in his hometown Thursday to help Buffalo win at Montreal 6-1.

“These are great moments,” Levi said.

It’s unclear whether the Sabres will stick with Levi against Pittsburgh.

One thing Buffalo could bring into Pittsburgh is a resurgent offense. After netting eight goals over their previous four games, the Sabres broke out against the Canadiens. Tage Thompson had two goals and an assist, and Jeff Skinner had a goal and three assists to lead the way.

In addition, Buffalo was 2-for-4 on the power play after going four games without a goal with a man advantage. And both of those goals came off plays around the crease.

“We created off some low plays which we haven’t done in a while, so it’s really good,” newly named All-Star Rasmus Dahlin said. “It’s a step in the right direction, for sure.”

The flip side was that Montreal’s only goal came short-handed, a mark against the power play.

“There’s still plenty to clean up,” Sabres coach Don Granato said.

That goes for other aspects of Buffalo’s game. Granato has been tweaking the lineup.

“We just need to do things differently,” Granato said. “It hasn’t been good enough. I don’t care what numbers say. We need better.”

–Field Level Media

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