As expected, penguins roll in the net with Tristan Jarry and a small chance with Zach Aston-Reese jumping up a line.
The pens open it at 7:36 am when Mark Jankowski makes a nice pass for Sam Lafferty. Lafferty makes a really nice pass (don’t say that every day) for Evan Rodrigues who goes on the net and does an easy job of redirecting the puck. 1-0 Pittsburgh.
The pens then get a second and disrupt the buffalo outbreak. A bit of a broken game with a Sidney Crosby pass diverting into space and Kris Letang is Johnny on the spot to quickly get him 2-0 past Dustin Tokarski.
The Sabers are not disappearing yet, after an offensive draw Rasmus Dahlin shoots from the depths and Tristan Jarry cannot follow it. 2-1 pens.
Rasmus Ristolainen gets a penalty late in the period, but the pens don’t capitalize.
Shots by one are 21-12 Pittsburgh. It’s not a misprint, the pens had a shooting range and could have scored multiple goals if it hadn’t been for a bit of bad luck.
Ristolainen receives another penalty, but the pens cannot take advantage of the power play again.
A bit later, John Marino takes a very weak call in the offensive zone where his stick barely got into the guy, but this is the NHL for you. Up 2-1 at up 2-0 in power games is exactly what it’s all about. The edge is quickly reversed when Dahlin receives a penalty to negate the Buffalo power play.
The pens get some breathing air late as Jared McCann circles the net and finds John Marino for a quick shot and the score is 3-1.
In the last minute, Mark Jankowski receives another minor offensive zone penalty when he barely pushes a player who makes the old flop and Buffalo is back on power play … But it’s the pens that hit. Frederick Gaudreau would do well to abandon an attempt to pass and make a strong cut inward to get past Dahlin and head off to the races. However, Gaudreau opts to drop a pass for Zach Aston-Reese who leaves the game behind and has an easy target. 4-1 pens and it’s officially out of reach now.
Shots in the second are 13-6 Pittsburgh continuing to pour it up. Overall, it’s a 34:18 lead for the pens, which significantly outperform Buffalo.
In the 4v4 game after a penalty for each team and 3:57 in the period, Crosby climbs on the board when Jake Guentzel brings the captain to a partial breakout. The puck might have rolled a bit on Sid, but he looked around and found it. 5-1 pens.
Dot effects kick in when the pens wear off and Buffalo keeps pushing. Victor Olofsson steps behind the defense and Mike Matheson picks him up and scores a penalty for Buffalo. The talented Olofsson makes no mistake with a quick deke and pulls the puck down for a quick shot and to Jarry’s blocker side for a 5-2 game.
Shots in the third end result in 10-8 Buffalo as the pens pretty much just play the distance and come out of here with a pretty easy home win.
- Buffalo just stinks. They have some injury issues and their third string goalkeeper Tokarski looked over his head for most of the night. He gave up 5 goals and it could easily have been more.
- Great game for Evan Rodrigues against his old team. Scored a nice goal and was dangerous with several more chances and super high 8 shots on goal with a total of 10 attempts. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of competition, but it was nice to see someone stand up and take advantage of it. Rodrigues was arguably the most visible player of the night throughout the game.
- The only boring point in this game could be the status of Kasperi Kapanen. He was hit in the ankle area for the first period but was able to come back for a while. Then he left in the second period and didn’t finish the game. Hopefully this won’t be another case of missed time for the group of strikers who can’t afford to lose one of their better players in Kapanen.
- Two of the first three goals were scored by defenders. Very good game for them as a group. Nice to see that Marino only scores his second goal of the year, taking advantage of the space and finding a good place to shoot. Hopefully this will increase his confidence and he can build on it.
- One goal, one assist, 7 shots on goal for Sidney Crosby. He just keeps lifting the team on their backs and putting together great achievements in every shift.
- The pens power play was quiet again, but had a good zone time. The penalty shoot-out was excellent, it ruined all chances of a sneaky good Buffalo PP group and even scored its own goal.
- Speaking of which, the pens on Gadreau are inevitably based on their PK and he is fine there.
- Pittsburgh increases their home record to 13-3-1. Protecting the home fort is always great, and this week’s Buffalo games will be a pretty easy way to top up that record for the season.
- Have a nice night and there will be lots of smiles as a result. 12 of the 18 skaters in the lineup have scored a point, including some who haven’t found much this season (Jankowski, Marino, Matheson, Lafferty, Gaudreau). Yes, it’s “just Buffalo,” but it’s an NHL game nonetheless.
- The Sabers losing streak is now up to 15 games. The NHL record is the sad 2003-04 Pittsburgh team, and right now the lifeless Sabers look like they might threaten that nefarious record. On the positive side, however, they should start goalkeeper Linus Ullmark again soon, maybe tomorrow, and that could be the little good news that could help. Someday.
Great game for the pens who pocket two points and move on quickly to end up with the same unfortunate Buffalo team tomorrow. Hopefully Kapanen is good to do, but other than that it was a night for Pittsburgh with all the systems in place to take care of business and even when they were exhausted they found a way to look about 1000 times better than their opponents.