Pittsburgh's winning streak came to an end Tuesday against Buffalo, where the Sabres outworked the Penguins for long stretches of play en route to a 4-1 win.
The Penguins, in their first game this season without Sidney Crosby, mustered just 20 shots on goal, their second-lowest shot total of the season and fewest SOG since recording 18 in a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins on St. Patrick's Day.
Jarome Iginla scored his first Penguins goal in the loss, a PP marker at 13:27 of the first period.
All in all, a rough night for all Penguins skaters not named Douglas Murray or Craig Adams. Murray and Adams were the only Pens skaters to finish with an even rating, helping the penalty kill to a perfect 5-for-5 effort. Murray recorded 4 blocked shots, as well, and was a menace to noted Buffalo agitator Patrick Kaleta.
The new-look top line of Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis was a combined minus-5, with just 5 total shots on goal.
Center Joe Vitale sat out Tuesday's game, the team opting instead to place Kennedy, who began his career as a center but has played wing for as long as anyone can remember, between the team's top-scoring wingers.
Vitale is one of Pittsburgh's better face-off takers, leading the team with a 63.0 faceoff win percentage in 211 draws taken, and his absence was felt. The Pens won just 23 of 57 draws (40 percent on the dot), with Kennedy going 3-for-6 in the circle.
Top centers Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter had the worst go of it, earning a combined 13-for-38 night on the draw.
With their number-one center out for the foreseeable future and a pair of natural centers taking turns on the healthy scratch list in Vitale and Dustin Jeffrey, it'll be hard to justify keeping Kennedy in his makeshift first-line role for long.
Defensively, the Pens allowed more than two goals against for the first time since March 9. Their franchise-record shutout streak also came to an end, as Tomas Vokoun allowed two goals apiece in the first and second periods after playing seven consecutive periods of perfect hockey.
Marc-Andre Fleury came on in relief at 3:28 of the second, stopping all 16 shots he faced.
Kevin Porter, Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson scored goals in the win.
Buffalo remains five points out of the playoff bubble with just 11 games to go, making them sellers at today's deadline. The Sabres have already unloaded defensemen Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr in separate deals this week.
The Penguins will be right back at it Wednesday, taking on the New York Rangers in the second of back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins are 3-0-0 against the Rangers this season, outscoring the preseason Cup favorites 12-3 over those contests, including two shutouts in their last two games against New York. Wednesday's match will be the first of a home-and-home set between the teams, as the 9th-place Rangers will visit Pittsburgh Friday for the final game between these teams this season.