It is almost as if taking a penalty is not a problem for the Sabres anymore. Buffalo has become so good at penalty killing that it almost isn't even an oppertuity for the other team any more. The only real concern for Buffalo shorthanded is that they don't take a second penalty and go down two players. Even in five on three situations Buffalo has been impressive, notably killing of a full two minutes of five on three to win a close game against Pittsuburgh a little over a week ago. Yet when you look at the actual stats the Sabres are doing even better then they seem to be.
The last time Buffalo allowed a five on four goal against was before Thanksgiving. If they can kill off their penalties tonight then they will have spanned the entire holiday season without allowing a five on four goal. The last time Buffalo gave up a five on four goal was 14 games ago when the Islanders' Mark Streit scored an empty netter with two seconds left in the game.
Going into tonights game Buffalo has not allowed a goal against in their last 74 minutes and six seconds of five on four play. Nor is this even a new trend as Buffalo was the second last team in the league to give up a powerplay goal of any kind to start the season. Also this streak has involved games against some very good powerplays teams in Pittsuburgh and Montreal.
Perhaps that is how the Sabres can win this year. The ability to not give up that one more goal is certainly a factor in the close games. Tonight the penalty kill will have a rough time as they have to go up against the combination of Crosby and Malkin. Still if they can hold out, it greatly increases Buffalo oppertunity to win.