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Insider Only Game 68: Morning Skate Report: Kunitz not skating on the top-4 lines

Buffalo Sabres (32-25-8, 72 pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (38-21-8, 84pts)
PIT Home Record: 20-11-2 | BUF Road Record: 18-10-5
Last Game: PIT – Saturday at Boston (3-2W) | Last Game: BUF – Sunday at Minnesota (3-2W)
Last 10: PIT – 3-3-4 | BUF – 5-3-2
Conference Rank: PIT No. 4 (84 pts) – BUF No. 8 (72 pts)
2010-11 Results: Pittsburgh is 3-0 against the Sabres this season. The Penguins swept the HSBC Arena portion of the series, following a 1-0 victory on Nov. 24 and a 5-2 win on Dec. 11. On Nov 24, Marc Andre Fleury stopped all 30 shots he faced to record his 17th career shutout. On Feb. 4, the Penguins fell behind the Sabres early, 2-0, before second period goals from Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke allowed Pittsburgh to scratch out a 3-2 victory. In the three games, Fleury has denied 91 of 95 (.958 sv%) Buffalo shots.
Fleury will get the start tonight and is seeking his 30th win of the season.

Game Notes

– The Pittsburgh Penguins return home to begin a three game, six-day homestand by hosting the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the Consol Energy Center.
– Pittsburgh is coming off a solid performance on its season-high five game road swing, posting a 2-1-2 record. Each of the final four games of the trip went to overtime, with the Penguins winning once in overtime (March 5 at Boston) and once via shootout (Feb. 26 at Toronto) and losing a pair of overtime contests.
Pittsburgh’s four consecutive overtime games leaves the team one shy of equaling the franchise record for most-consecutive overtime games, which was achieved March 4-13, 2007 (4-1 record.
– Pittsburgh has won five consecutive games against the Sabres, including all three games this season.
The Penguins are 7-1-1 in their last 9 home games against Buffalo, winning the season series 9 times in the last 11 seasons. Since 1999-2000, the Penguins own a 27-9-7 advantage over the Sabres.
– Pittsburgh comes into tonight’s game with points in seven of their previous 9 games (3-2-4). Buffalo comes into tonight’s game 5-0-2 in their last 7 games.

10:30 a.m. Morning Skate Report

The Penguins morning skate is underway and Chris Kunitz is not skating on one of the top-4 lines.
Here’s how the lines have skaken up in the morning skate.

Lines

Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Talbot – Jeffrey – Dupuis
Neal – Letestu – Kovalev
Rupp – Adams – Conner
*Chris Kunitz is skating again on the 5th line with Eric Godard and Dustin Jeffrey filling in as the center.
Bylsma yesterday called Kunitz “probable” but he has yet to take any shifts on the top-4 lines. Waiting word on his status for tonight.

Power Play Units

1st unit: Kennedy – Staal – Kovalev
Letang – Martin
*James Neal is off the 1st unit and now on the 2nd unit.
2nd unit: Letestu – Rupp – Neal
Michalek – Jeffrey
*Chris Kunitz is taking an occasional rep with the 2nd unit. At this point it looks like he will sit out tonight’s game.

Special Teams Breakdown

Buffalo comes into tonight’s game with the 20th ranked power play and that’s an area the Penguins will look to exploit. Pittsburgh has killed off 26 of Buffalo’s last 29 power plays.
PIT Power Play Numbers
Overall: 44-256 (17.2%), 17th in the NHL
5-on-4: 39-235 (16.6%)
5-on-3: 2-10, (20.0%)
4-on-3: 3-11, (27.3%)
PIT Penalty Kill Numbers
Overall: 234-270 (86.7%) 1st in the NHL
5-on-4: 213-244, (87.3%)
5-on-3: 13-17, (76.5%)
4-on-3: 8-9, (88.9%)

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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