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Penguins vs. Sabres recap: Sid and Geno run wild on Buffalo

Dan Bylsma sees what it's like to face Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who pitch in on 4 different goals to push the Pens past the Buffalo Sabres.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins paid tribute to former coach Dan Bylsma with a nice little video montage.

The Goals

On the second shift of the game, Sidney Crosby shoots, Pascal Dupuis picks up the loose change and knocks it in. That line has been written many times from 2010-today. For Dupuis, it's his first goal in 11 months and good for him.

After Olli Maatta made a nice sweeping play to keep the puck in the zone, Crosby found Patric Hornqvist for his first goal of the season.

Just like that 7:16 in the Pens were up 2-0 and all looked well, but then Buffalo started chipping back almost immediately in the first period.

Rasmus Ristolainen got credit for that long point-shot, but it sure looked like it changed directions on Jeff Zatkoff.

Then the Sabres would tie the game after pinning the Pens in deep for a while and exploiting some flat-footed defensive play by Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi defensively.

In the second period, Ben Lovejoy took a penalty (boo), but then made amends by scoring after getting out of the penalty box, courtesy of a nice pass from Evgeni Malkin.

Stop the presses, a Pittsburgh power play goal! Starts with Phil Kessel throwing the puck to the net (novel concept, that) and Hornqvist bumping it over to Malkin. Malkin actually fans on his first attempt, but he's world class and coolly just kicks the puck back to his stick and slams it in the empty net past a helpless Chad Johnson.

The Sabres really turned it on in the 3rd period, with the Penguins just sitting on the lead, with 2:26 left, Ryan O'Reilly would score with the goalie having been pulled for the extra man.

The Pens then took a penalty when a clearing attempt sailed on Kris Letang. Incidental but that's the rule. Buffalor piled on the pressure but Scuderi and Zatkoff stood tall and helped keep the puck out of the net. Pens win.

The non-fan of the game

Come on, old man, let the kid get the puck. What a jerk. But hey, Peter King definitely approves.

(The Penguins would immediately get the kid a puck and a jersey, so it ends well at least). Hopefully the dude gets shamed like he killed a lion in Africa.

Some thoughts:

  • Great game early for Sid, right off the bat, who gets on the board with the 2 assists, but also with 3 shots on goal (on 5 attempts). After the first he wasn't that visible, but by then the damage was done.
  • Zatkoff looked a little rusty with rebound control early and getting some pucks tied up awkwardly in his skates, but that's to be expected for a guy who hasn't gotten to play a game all season. He recovered to make 40 saves on 42 shots- a bunch coming late with maybe some score effects starting to trickle in. He didn't have to be sparkling, but he did have to be sharp the whole night and credit to him, he was.
  • In fact, with 50 saves on 53 shots, he deserves more praise than that. Very good performance from a backup who hadn't played a meaningful game in the league in quite a while.
  • Best game of the season so far for Maatta. He was moving the puck with authority, looked great in the offensive zone, and defensively he was using his stick more to break up plays, and using his legs to cover a lot of ground in the defensive zone, all the while handling the vast majority of the zone exits.
  • In addition to his goal, Hornqvist had 2 more golden scoring chances. One he put the puck in between Mike Weber's legs, but the puck was rolling and Hornqvist only had room to backhand smack a shot on net. Another chance he had on the backhand too in the second period. Maybe he should stick to the forehand, but nice to see the chances coming.
  • 30th ranked Penguins power play vs the 30th ranked penalty kill. The movable object vs. the resistible force. But maybe the Pens PP goal will fuel some confidence.
  • Special teams were a big deciding factor. First Buffalo failed to score on their first PP chance, and right after Pittsburgh scored. Then the Pens scored on their PP later in the second. That tipped the balance of the game right there at that point.
  • It's pretty ironic that Dan Bylsma - the fastest coach to 250 wins in league history (largely on the backs of Crosby and Malkin's primes) ended up getting an L tonight with Crosby setting up the first two goals, and then Malkin getting points on the following two goals. A taste of the medicine that Bylsma dished out to the rest of the league for all those years.

Don't look now, but the Penguins have won 6 of their last 7 games, including two of their best games in the last two nights. Not bad to build on, and they look to add to that Saturday night in Toronto.