The game didn't start out all that hot when Paul Gaustad slipped one past Marc-Andre Fleury 17 seconds in, but the Penguins managed to play some shutdown defense following Michael Grier's goal that put the Sabres up 2-0. Two whole periods of it in fact.
Thanks to a three-goal second the Pens skated out of this one with the win, but they also left without Evgeni Malkin. Again. Geno, who returned to the ice for the first time in about two weeks after taking time off to recoup from a knee injury and sinus infection, left early in the second period and did not return.
Details after the jump.
Not even one minute into the second period, Malkin went after a loose puck in the corner, fell after a semi-collision with Buffalo's Tyler Myers and did not get up. Knee? Ankle? It's hard to say. The poor guy had over two weeks to try and heal up his injured knee and bounce back from a sinus infection and then he gets his with this. Unfortunately he did not return and we're now left wondering just how serious an injury that can be.
The good news is, Dustin Jeffrey is etching his name on the Pens' roster. DJ Hero picked up Pittsburgh's first goal of the night in the second period, his fourth of the year and sixth point in 10 games. Not even three minutes later it was Tyler Kennedy adding another and finally Matt Cooke tagging on what proved to be the game winner.
There were some close calls in the third period but Fleury was up for the task, setting aside 27 of Buffalo's 29 shots to secure win number 25 on the year. For a guy who started the season off on a bit of a shaky note, MAF is now tied with four other goaltenders for most wins between the pipes. It hurts to imagine where he'd be if only he got off on the right skate this season.
Nevertheless, a win's a win. Losing Geno for however long to whatever injury managed to plague him tonight is potentially a downside of the game, but let's consider how well the Pens have played without him or Sidney Crosby in the lineup. You can say whatever you want about luck. There's no denying Geno is getting plenty of the bad kind this season. But here's to hoping a speedy recovery from both him an el capitaine results in wins when they matter most - the postseason.
Pens and Caps on Sunday at 12:30, prior to the Steelers' run for a Super Bowl.