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Crosby, Eichel aim to end droughts as Pens host Sabres

PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins and Buffalo Sabres each are looking for a drought-busting game from a star player when the teams meet Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has scored five times and has 13 points, but he has gone 11 games without a goal. Buffalo's Jack Eichel has 14 points, but he has failed to score a goal in each of the past eight games.

"You just try to keep going," Crosby said after Pittsburgh (9-7-3) practiced Monday. "No matter who you're playing, try to keep doing the right things and trust they'll go in."

Eichel is trying to relax a little.

"You're going to go through ups and downs," Eichel said before the Sabres (5-9-3) traveled to Pittsburgh. "Maybe fighting the puck, doing a little too much thinking. Just (need to) get back to playing -- moving my feet, doing the things that make me successful. Just try to get engaged mentally and physically early. That's all I'm going to try to do (Tuesday)."

Buffalo coach Phil Housley agreed with that approach and expects his team to benefit in a larger dynamic if Eichel can end his slump.

"You've just got to remind him to play a team game. Keep it simple," Housley said. "As a team we've got to shoot the puck more, and in Jack's case I think he would agree with me. He's got to deliver pucks. It's going to change (the opposing) defense. It's going to create offenses for us."

The Sabres practiced Monday without defenseman Marco Scandella. Housley said Scandella was ill but most likely will play Tuesday.

Pittsburgh is trying to catch its breath with some home games and a lighter schedule. The Penguins are tied for the league lead with 19 games played, and 13 of those have been on the road.

"We definitely are excited for the fact that we're going to be here a little bit more," Crosby said. "We've got to string some games together, put some good games together."

The early-season equation reverses itself starting Tuesday, with 13 of Pittsburgh's next 19 games at home. The Penguins have not lost in regulation at PPG Paints Arena (5-0-1), as opposed to a 4-7-2 mark on the road.

"We've had the discussion -- why do we have success here, and why can't we replicate it on the road?" coach Mike Sullivan said. "I don't know that there's any one answer for it."

Some of it might be the early scheduling, which included a trip to Western Canada. Pittsburgh remains in the Eastern Time Zone for the next month and has just two back-to-back sets between now and the end of the calendar year.

"A lot of the back-to-back games (so far) are on the road. That certainly has an effect," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "Certainly a long road trip, a lot of travel, has a fatiguing effect.

"Just from the feel of this first part of the year, I'm thinking by March we're going to have three weeks at home with four games total," he said, smiling. "Things tend to even out."

Updated November 13, 2017

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