BUFFALO – In their last meeting Nov. 14 in Pittsburgh, the Sabres held two early two-goal leads before the Penguins roared back to beat them 5-4 in overtime.
On March 5 in Pittsburgh, the Sabres went up 3-0 in the first period before imploding and losing 4-3.
The Sabres have played the Penguins, winners of the last two Stanley Cups, tough during some recent meetings. They just can’t close out games.
“They don’t stop, that’s something we can definitely learn from,” Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons said. “They go all 60 minutes, and you can’t take a break during games, it’ll come back and bite you.”
The reeling Sabres, losers of nine of the last 10 games, won’t get any relief tonight against superstar Sidney Crosby and the Penguins inside KeyBank Center.
The Penguins own a 13-game point streak against the Sabres, who have an NHL-low 16 points. The Sabres last beat the Penguins on Nov. 19, 2016, a 2-1 shootout win in Buffalo.
The Penguins are too experienced and talented to fold after falling behind early.
“We got to lock those situations down,” Housley said. “We know they’re going to give us a push, but at that time, we got to really settle down and face that adversity and just do your job defensively.”
Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu said: “That’s our biggest problem right now, we’re not playing 60 minutes. You let a team like that hang around for too long, they’re going to bury you.”
He added: “There’s no panic in their game. They’re not afraid to play up by a goal or down by a goal.”
Having defenseman Zach Bogosian back should help tonight. Bogosian, 27, hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury in the preseason finale.
“He’s just another voice,” said Beaulieu, who skated with Bogosian this morning. “You know Zach, he’s a character. He’s talking, joking around, but he’s also very serious and passionate about the game.”
Housley said: “I’m really excited because I thought Nathan and him as partners in the preseason really formed a good chemistry.”
Bogosian’s season debut means the Sabres will have their six regular defensemen play together for the first time all season. He also gives the Sabres a second right-handed defender. Rasmus Ristolainen had been the only righty recently.
“It’s always nice to have lefty-righty, especially in transition,” Housley said. “It’s easier to accept passes, come up ice. When you have that, it just forms a different angle for a guy playing his off side.”
Goalie Robin Lehner will start tonight for the Sabres, who play Saturday in Pittsburgh. Rookie Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins.
With Bogosian back, defenseman Justin Falk will likely be scratched.
The Sabres sent goalie Linus Ullmark, who practiced Thursday to give Lehner a rest, back to the AHL this morning.
Update: The Sabres have sent defenseman Matt Tennyson, who cleared waivers today, to the Rochester Americans.