Jack Eichel will face Sidney Crosby tonight in Pittsburgh. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres to face loaded Penguins lineup

BUFFALO – It’s no secret NHL teams field stronger preseason lineups at home, especially toward the end. So Sabres coach Phil Housley knew the Pittsburgh Penguins would dress better players tonight than the first time the teams met eight days ago.

“It’s getting toward the end, right?” Housley said this morning after the Sabres skated inside HarborCenter. “They’re trying to get their guys geared up. But at the same time, it puts us in a good spot.”

The Sabres face a stiff road test against the Penguins, winners of the last two Stanley Cups. Superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and most of Pittsburgh’s regulars will dress.

While the Penguins’ regular-season lineup is pretty much set, the Sabres still have some rosters battles for fourth-line and depth spots.

What will Housley be examining over the last two games?

“Just what they’re bringing on the ice, the competitive nature, do they understand the concepts, are they making an impact on the team or their line?” he said.

Here are tonight’s likely forward lines and defense pairs from left to right:

– Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville

– Zemgus Girgensons, Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo

– Benoit Pouliot, Sam Reinhart and Justin Bailey

– Nick Deslauriers, Jacob Josefson and Johan Larsson

– Nathan Beaulieu and Zach Bogosian

– Victor Antipin and Taylor Fedun

– Justin Falk and Cody Goloubef

Goalie Chad Johnson will start and likely be backed up by Robin Lehner.

The Sabres beat the Penguins 4-3 in overtime last Tuesday at Penn State.

In other news, Housley said defenseman Marco Scandella, who’s occasionally been resting his hip after undergoing offseason surgery, skated again this morning.

“We’re still cautious on that,” Housley said. “He’s still making progress every day.”

Housley had no update on center Evan Rodrigues, who’s week-to-week with a hand injury (Housley said day-to-day Tuesday).

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