The Pittsburgh Penguins will come home Saturday night looking for a home-and-home sweep of the Buffalo Sabres — and perhaps a little revenge, too.
The Penguins won 4-3 at Buffalo in overtime on Friday — so the Sabres are guaranteed at least one point out of the two-game set — but an incident late in Friday’s game could produce lingering feelings for the rematch.
Buffalo could be without winger Jeff Skinner, who was assessed a match penalty in the final minute of regulation Friday and could face further league discipline after he cross-checked Pittsburgh winger Jake Guentzel in the lower face.
The incident and the reaction by both teams led to the Pittsburgh power play that produced Jeff Carter’s winning goal 1:36 into overtime.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Guentzel was not injured, but his players were less than thrilled with Skinner.
“You don’t want to see those plays in our games,” Carter said. “They’re tough to watch.”
Sabres coach Don Granato said emotions erupted after Skinner and Guentzel tangled.
“That’s a fine line. That’s every day,” Granato said. “These are high-intensity situations. That’s not something you can snap your fingers and fix.
“That’s part of sports. … His emotions got the best of him.”
Buffalo had the better of the play through two periods and led 2-1, but Pittsburgh came back to win for the first time this season after trailing going into the third.
“Either we didn’t do a good enough job of managing the puck or didn’t kill plays quick enough and they got some momentum,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. “We know when we play them, they’re dangerous and they work well together, so it’s a constant battle.”
The Penguins have won four straight and are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games, while Buffalo has earned points in five of its past six (3-1-2).
For the Sabres on Friday, center Tage Thompson was coming off a five-goal game Wednesday in a 9-4 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Asked about his team’s strategy entering Friday’s game, Sullivan quipped that the Penguins were going to try to keep Thompson from scoring five.
Mission accomplished. Thompson had no goals and one assist against Pittsburgh.
The Saturday rematch could see the return of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, remarkably just 12 days after he had a stroke.
Letang, 35, practiced Thursday after previously skating separately from the team, then took the ice for an optional morning skate Friday in Buffalo.
He was ruled out for the first half of the home-and-home, but he and team physician Dharmesh Vyas made it clear that Letang no longer is feeling any effects from what was the second stroke during his career. Letang’s status was upgraded to day-to-day.
The latest stroke and one in 2014 were attributed to a small hole in Letang’s heart.
“Certainly, it’s not the sport that created this problem,” Vyas said.
Both teams are likely to change their goaltenders for the second game in the back-to-back set.
The Penguins’ Tristan Jarry, who made 28 saves on Friday, probably will give way to Casey DeSmith for the rematch.
After Buffalo’s Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots in the overtime defeat, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is expected to start on Saturday.
–Field Level Media