Penguins vs. Sabres Preview

pittsburgh penguins vs buffalo sabres nhl odds nhl preview

BUFFALO, NY (AP) - Sidney Crosby's been on quite a roll ever since slipping an overtime shot past Ryan Miller to give Canada the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Right now, he's got the Pittsburgh Penguins on an awfully impressive run as well.

The NHL's leading scorer has a point in 17 straight games and has helped the Penguins win 11 in a row, streaks Crosby will look to extend Saturday night against the host Buffalo Sabres in his first encounter with Miller since the Olympics.

Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Penguins –115 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Sabres. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 66% of more than 95 bets for this game have been placed on the Penguins -115.

Trends show Pittsburgh is 9-1 ATS after a three-game winning streak this season.

Crosby didn't have a fantastic Olympic tournament, but he did score the goal that sent his native country into a frenzy in Vancouver. His shot 7:40 into overtime snuck past Miller - the tournament MVP - to lift Canada to just its second men's hockey gold since 1952.

Crosby finished with 51 NHL goals and shared the Rocket Richard trophy with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos last season, but a third of the way through 2010-11, he appears intent on winning every offensive trophy the league has to offer. He's still two games shy of his career-best point streak, but his current run includes five more points (20 goals, 15 assists) than his 19-game streak from Oct. 6-Nov. 17, 2007.

"He's the complete package," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said, "from shot-blocking to physical play to a guy that really goes hard to the (net) to score a majority of his goals.

"He just keeps wanting to get better. If there's a trait you could instill in any player, it would have to be that. There's no comfort level."

He's helped Pittsburgh (20-8-2) bounce back from a mediocre first month to become the league's hottest team. Crosby scored twice Wednesday against Toronto - his third multi-goal game this month - in a 5-2 victory.

"There's a lot of season left," said Crosby, who received "MVP" chants and a standing ovation. "As a group, we want to keep going and individually, (I) want to keep going. Just want to keep going."

One of the Penguins' most tightly contested games during the streak came Nov. 24 in Buffalo. Crosby set up Pascal Dupuis late in the first period, a goal that held up in a 1-0 win.

Miller missed that game with a strained groin, and he also was given a day to rest when the Sabres (12-13-4) visited Pittsburgh on March 2 - two days after Crosby's gold-medal winner.

That means Saturday will be Miller's first chance to face Crosby since Vancouver.

"I think it's a good challenge for our team to play against a good goalie like that," Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "We know he's probably one of the best goalies in the league, and we've just got to do our best. We've got to throw everything on him."

That's worked against Miller in the past. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 2-3-1 with a 4.54 GAA in his last seven starts against Pittsburgh. Crosby has six goals and three assists in that stretch - including a hat trick Feb. 1.

Like the Penguins, Miller had a so-so start to the season. But after going 6-6-2 with a 2.63 GAA before missing a week with the injury, he's 4-1-1 with a 1.64 GAA since returning.

He had plenty of help Wednesday. Buffalo had scored 12 goals in its previous seven games, but Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad each scored twice in a 6-3 win over San Jose.

"We got six and we could have had more," Ruff said.

The Penguins, meanwhile, might get another boost as they look for a sixth win in seven meetings with the Sabres. Evgeni Malkin, who's missed three straight games with a knee injury, is expected to skate Saturday morning and could return.

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