Welcome to the Party James Neal: Pens Beat Sabres 3-1

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 08: Zbynek Michalek #4 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first goal of the season against the Buffalo Sabres at Consol Energy Center on March 8, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Sabres Blog: Die By the Blade

It may have taken a little while but James Neal notched his first goal in the black and gold tonight and added another assist to help lead the Pens to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Ryan Miller doesn't do all that well against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Never really has, actually.  According to HockeyReference.com, Miller had a career record of 4-8-3 against the Pens heading into tonight's game (now 4-9-3), and has a career-worst .884 save percentage.  What's more, he allowed 50 goals in 16 starts, or a GAA of 3.26 - another career-worst against any single opponent.  Again, these numbers are what he brought into tonight's game, although having given up three goals won't change those stats much.

Marc-Andre Fleury on the other hand held a 9-3-2 career record against the Sabres heading into tonight's game.  (For the record, his carer-high is 19 wins against...the Flyers).  Tuesday MAF was once again on his game, stopping 29 of 30 shots faced to improve the Pens' record to 39-21-8.

But don't let all of this goaltender talk overshadow the fact that James Neal, in his seventh game as a Penguin, finally lit the lamp to tie the game at one.  He later added an assist on Zbynek Mi...wait, Zbynek Michalek scored a goal?  As Hooks pointed out on Twitter during the game, Z's second period notch keeps him out of an elite class of former Penguins.  Congrats to Z on his first.  He'd also pick up an assist before all was said and done, threading the helper to Mark Letestu in the third period to put the Pens ahead 3-1.

It was a night of firsts for those two guys, but also for the Pens, as the team registered its first regulation win since Feb. 4 against - the Sabres.  Either way, kudos to Neal and Michalek for getting theirs. 

Good to see Chris Kunitz back out there although his ice time may have been a bit on the lower end of the list.  That will likely pick up as he starts to get back into game shape.

And now...we wait.  The Pens have off until Saturday when they take on the Canadiens at 2 ET.  That should provide ample time for the group to heal up a bit and get their feet back under them for what will hopefully be a strong home stand that closes out Sunday against the Oilers.

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