The Pittsburgh Penguins scored two goals in the first period from Chuck Kobasew and Sidney Crosby, played excellent defense, got some solid play from Marc-Andre Fleury and easily coasted to a win. Wait, is this my recap from Thursday's game against the Devils?
No, no it's not. The Buffalo Sabres showed up in Pittsburgh tonight, kind of, but they weren't much of a challenge for the Pens tonight who grabbed that early lead and never really were in much danger, it seemed like.
Whether it was puck possession, shot attempts, just having a lot of time being open and free in the offensive end, the Penguins seemed to have a higher gear that Buffalo wasn't ready to match, at least tonight.
About the only disappointment was Fleury lost his shutout bid with about five minutes left in the game, surrendering his first goal of the year when Tomas Vanek tipped in a Cody Hodgson effort in a pretty much unstoppable puck.
"We had the puck and controlled the game, we were in their zone so they didn't come into our side too much," Fleury said after the game. He wasn't kidding, the Pens who out-shot the Sabres 35-21 and out-attempted them 67-39. And, it didn't even seem that close.
Some more thoughts on the game:
- Crosby took 41 - count 'em - FORTY ONE faceoffs, winning 59% of them. There were 75 faceoffs in the game, meaning Sid took well over 50% of the team's total faceoffs.
- Speaking of Crosby, his goal came from right in front of the net, finding the puck and following his own shot. Nice to see him fearlessly charging back into those areas.
- Another dud night for the power play. 0 for 2 on the night and now 0 for 3 on the season. Without two injured members of the first team unit in Kris Letang and James Neal, the Pens just don't look dangerous or in a groove.
- Chris Kunitz scored his first goal of the year on a penalty shot. As mentioned by several broadcasters around the league, it seems NHL refs have a mandate to award more penalty shots so far in this young season. Kunitz got a shot off on net, but he was being clearly hooked, so it definitely was an infraction.
- Craig Adams joked to reporters about being on an 82 goal pace after scoring in the opener. Well, now the season's twice as old and he's still on that 82 goal pace. His career high, by the way is 10 (in 2005-06 with Carolina) so in about eight games it seems like he'll be tying that, right?
- How smooth has the Rob Scuderi / Matt Niskanen pair been out there? What makes it even more impressive is Letang suffered his injury late in camp and the two have had minimal practice time together. Just two simple, good players playing well together.
- Robert Bortuzzo had a good game as well, recording 3 hits and 2 blocked shots in 15:13 played. And, perhaps most impressively (for a young player looking to impress on every shift) he took the heady approach to turn down a fight request while his team was up 3-0. Makes you wonder if the guy he's replaced (Deryk Engelland) would have done the same...
- Really good game for Buffalo goalie Jonas Enroth. Without his efforts this game would have gotten a lot uglier a lot faster.
- Coincidence or not that the same three guys who scored last game all scored again tonight? Hockey's a strange game like that sometimes.
In the end, the Penguins again did exactly what you'd want to see them do playing at home against a young and over-matched opponent. They were quietly efficient in all three phases, got some saves and good defensive plays when they needed it, and otherwise controlled the puck and did a lot of good things out there. Enough to win tonight, and that's what matters.