The First Niagara Center will be the home of the first of two NHL betting battles on NBC on Sunday afternoon, as the Buffalo Sabres play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Pens have reached 10 wins, and they most definitely have their sights set on being the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs this year. They’ve won seven straight games against teams not named the New Jersey Devils, and they’re ready to take Buffalo by storm to wrap up this small two-game road trip before coming home for three next week. G Marc-Andre Fleury is currently tied with G Tom Barrasso for the franchise record of shutouts with 22, and one more shutout will give him the record. He nearly got that shutout in a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, and one would like to think that, especially with two days off following this game, he’ll get another chance on Sunday to get the job done. We know that Pittsburgh already has the offense to be dominating, and we think that even better numbers could be on the way than just 3.1 goals per game, though that does rank sixth in hockey.
The Sabres are stuck playing in the toughest division in hockey right now, and they are the unfortunate side that is stuck in the gutter at the moment. The team came up with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Friday night that had to prove to be encouraging. It was another solid offensive effort, and one that didn’t include an explosion by LW Thomas Vanek for a change, and the defense came up with a second straight respectable game. Both of these issues have been problematic this year. The Sabres rank 26th in the NHL, allowing 3.3 goals per game this year, and aside from Vanek’s 23 points and the points of his line mates, the rest of the team just hasn’t gotten a thing done offensively this year. Vanek though, is one of the top scorers in the NHL this year with 11 goals and 12 assists, while RW Jason Pominville has six goals and eight assists, and C Cody Hodgson has six goals and five helpers.
The Sabres are getting a good price here at home at plus odds. The Pens have been a great road team this year at 7-2, but at some point, that’s all going to have to stop. Trust in a surging Buffalo outfit to get the job done in a big time home game on Sunday afternoon.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Buffalo Sabres Pick: Buffalo Sabres