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Recap: Pens beat Toothless Sabres, 4-3

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins playing in the second of back-to-back games was an opportunity for Buffalo to steal two points at home against a potentially tired team. Instead, Penguins were the more aggressive team in their pursuit of loose pucks and skating with possession.

The scoring opened in the first period as Sidney Crosby and Trevor Daley played catch with the puck as if Buffalo had a ticket to watch the action unfold. The open ice at the point for Daley allowed him to get the time to try a pass toward Chris Kunitz in front of the net to the right of Robin Lehner but just as the puck was nearing Patric Hornqvist, he was able to deflect the puck towards the spot Lehner was positioned.

@Penguins ---> Hornqvist goal

Just over 3 minutes later, Buffalo scored on the power play off a Zach Bogosian slap shot thanks to a screen by Matt Cullen in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.

Buffalo had the better of the play in the first period, though it was quite evident in the second period, their minimal success was more of an indication of the way the Penguins were playing than anything the Sabres were doing on the ice.

In the second period, Penguins were able to take a 2-1 lead on a 4-on-4 goal scored by Scott Wilson, his third in as many games. The goal was the result of a faceoff win for Crosby that also contributed to Johan Larsson's stick breaking in half, essentially giving the Penguins a 4-on-3 in the zone that gave Kristopher Letang all the time and space to find Wilson wide open on the right wing for the one-timer.

@Penguins ---> Wilson goal

Phil Kessel extended the lead to 3-1 with 2:10 left in the second period as Letang faked a shot, got some space to move in a little and then fired a slap pass to a wide open Kessel as Lehner had to respect Letang's shot. Instead of a one-timer, Kessel was able to handle the puck and then whip it into the empty net.

@Penguins ---> Kessel goal

In the third period while short-handed, Matt Cullen takes an area pass from Carl Hagelin and on the breakaway was able to slide the puck through Lehner for the team's sixth SH goal of the season.

@Penguins ---> Cullen goal

The Sabres respond 13 seconds later as another Bogosian shot on the power play creates a goal as Brian Gionta deflects the puck through Fleury in front of the net with 11:55 to play.

@BuffaloSabres ---> Gionta goal

Penguins had a power play late in the game without much action, best thing you could say is the two minutes taken off the clock. Under a minute to play, Buffalo pulled Lehner and once again, Bogosian rips a slap shot off Fleury into the net. All this guy does is score goals and be a pain against the Penguins.

The Penguins hang on and win 4-3.

Post-game thoughts:

1. It was nice to see Fleury back in net after yesterday's lackluster performance by Zatkoff. The difference was noticeable in the first period as a few bounces and deflections were stopped by Fleury, which didn't happen as we know and now see Zatkoff in the press box and Matt Murray serving as the backup.

2. Penguins have 5 sets of back-to-back games for the rest of the regular season and team can't give away points, thus Murray should stay in the NHL for the remainder of the season. This is why the Calgary Flames were told Murray wasn't available in any deal. It should be interesting to see if Zatkoff is placed on waivers to be sent to the AHL or is moved by the trade deadline.

3. Power Play desperately needs Evgeni Malkin back as the team hasn't done much with the man advantage since his injury. For reasons only known to Mike Sullivan, once Malkin went out, he moved Crosby back to the wall and away from the net and slot area. It is painfully obvious, Crosby doesn't have the consistent shot to score from the right-wing wall like Malkin has shown over his career. Until Malkin is back, team should move to Daley and Letang on the points to allow Crosby and Kessel on opposite wings and either Kunitz or Hornqvist in the middle as the net front presence.

4. Late in third period, Evander Kane was called for a trip and Dan Bylsma starts yelling about an embellishment/diving penalty on Daley but the replay clearly showed Kane with a trip as Daley was trying to turn up the ice behind the net. The constant screaming of diving when there wasn't is why the NHL and referees have such a hard time of managing the real diving problems.

5. It is surprising teams don't try to agitate and create an aggressive game against the Penguins more often, especially in the second of back-to-back games in which you saw the first game have a plan to hit and do those frustrating things to rile up Letang and Crosby.