Ryan Miller

Tonight on NBCSN: Sabres try to figure it out against Blackhawks

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In case you haven’t heard, the Buffalo Sabres aren’t doing so hot this season. When they head to Chicago tonight to take on the Blackhawks (7:30 p.m. ET) they’ll be running into a team eager to keep them down and perhaps force changes to happen in Buffalo.

The Sabres have lost 13 of their last 17 games (4-10-3) and fallen back to 11th in the Eastern Conference. Ryan Miller has had perhaps his worst pro season yet and is getting such a rough ride from the home fans that even Buffalo native Patrick Kane wishes they’d take it easy on him. Miller’s woes have been emblematic of everything going wrong with the Sabres though.

The defense has looked rough and even though there are injuries throughout the lineup, even when they’ve been healthy they’ve struggled. Christian Ehrhoff, when healthy, hasn’t been the point producing superstar they hoped he would be while Tyler Myers has struggled as well. Robyn Regehr even hasn’t been as strong defensively as they hoped.

Mix in all those woes with a forward unit that’s had essentially only one good line featuring Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek and you’ve got troubles. The Sabres need more from guys like Derek Roy, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford, and Brad Boyes and it just isn’t happening.

Meanwhile, life is comparatively easy for the Blackhawks. Marian Hossa has been a monster, Jonathan Toews keeps doing his thing leading the team, and even Patrick Kane’s goal scoring slump hasn’t been all that noticeable. Getting inspired play from rookie Andrew Shaw has helped them overcome nagging injuries as well. As one of the top teams in the West, it’s hard to be too critical of Chicago’s play.

That said, Chicago would like to get things straightened out as well. The Blackhawks have dropped six of their last ten games (4-4-2) and are in the middle of an all out brawl with Detroit and St. Louis in the Central. It’ll be up to Corey Crawford to get hot and have Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook step up bigger to keep pace with the rest of the division.

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.

Video: Orpik penalized after catching Maatta with late, high hit

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The Pittsburgh Penguins were without defenseman Olli Maatta for most of the first period of Game 2 after he was on the receiving end of a high, late hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.

The hit occurred early in the first period, well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck on a rush into the Washington zone.

Maatta, who nearly fell over as he tried to stand back up, was in obvious distress as he went to the dressing room. Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference on the play.