A wild Tuesday night for the Penguins against the non-playoff bound Sabres. But Buffalo didn't cut them any breaks, by any means, as Pittsburgh would rudely find out with another poor start.
Matt Moulson scores only his 6th goal of the season in the first period on a Buffalo power play to give them a 1-0 lead.
#26 backhands home the rebound. pic.twitter.com/sH88eZvenW— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 29, 2016
David Legwand drives past Derrick Pouliot with the Penguins on the power play later in the 1st and Trevor Daley almost saves the day but his clearing attempt hits Phil Kessel's skate and hangs around for Ryan O'Reilly to slam it home. 2-0 Sabres.
Buffalo keeps it up and makes it 3-0 with Jake McCabe dekeing out Matt Murray for a goal. All before 20 minutes were over.
But then there would be the 2nd period. And the Pens get it all back. Starting with perhaps the most unlikely of scorers with Ben Lovejoy sneaking a shot past Chad Johnson on a nice pass from Bryan Rust.
Pittsburgh's comeback would continue with a goal from Conor Sheary, stepping out of the corner and scoring his 6th goal of the season. 3-2 all of a sudden.
The Pens make it 3-3, with a short-handed goal of their own. Matt Cullen uses his veteran wile to draw in the defender and the goalie, then makes a perfect pass to Tom Kuhnhackl . Kuhn with a nice one-time finish.
Usually that would be a great penalty kill in its own right, but then 24 seconds Carl Hagelin won a puck behind the net from goalie Johnson, fed Nick Bonino who scores again to make it 4-3 Pittsburgh. Quite the turnaround.
However, the Pens stumble out the gate in the 3rd, take a penalty and then give up the game-tying goal to Zach Bogosian .
Bogosian cashes in on the cross-ice pass from Larsson. pic.twitter.com/k5VzV4C3IV— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 30, 2016
That would be it until the shootout.
Sidney Crosby goes, and no.
Ryan O'Reilly tries to go 5-hole, denied by Murray.
Letang did almost everything else, so why not score a shootout goal after mesmerizing the goalie with some dekes and then just sliding the puck home, when the goalie is probably thinking he's going backhand (like he usually does).
Letang shootout goal pic.twitter.com/EqTzm4Qxzb— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 30, 2016
Eichel's turn and he shoots wide.
Phil Kessel comes in with speed and wins it for the Pens.
Kessel shootout goal pic.twitter.com/MPXtbpqlh7— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 30, 2016
- The Pittsburgh power play mixed things up by putting Beau Bennett up on the top unit. Bennett wasn't helping the main issue (rushing the puck through the neutral zone) and it remained ineffective.
- Seems like every game Matt Cullen is #DoingGoodThings. Just never ceases to amaze with aspects in his game, big and small. In addition to the superb assist, Cullen won 15/19 (79%) of his faceoffs on the night.
- As we pointed out in today's article, today's game went according to much of the season: very bad first period followed by a very, very good second period. The Pens really need better starts in a hurry when the games start to count for real and it becomes almost impossible in playoff time to crawl out of 2 or 3 goal deficits.
- The Pens dominated the game at even strength in terms of shots and goals, but special teams weren't that special (aside in a big way, of course, for those glorious 2 goals in 24 second stretch). Buffalo scored 2 PPG and added 1 SHG of their own.
- To that end, all the Penguins (except Ian Cole) had at least 1 shot on goal tonight. Kris Letang led the way with 8. 8!
- Letang's run of ridiculousness continued with 31:49 played...Through regulation. 34:35 total. Only 1 other defenseman (Trevor Daley 23:20) even came close to 20 minutes in regulation.
- Tonight will be the first time in 8 starts that Matt Murray's night won't be classified as a "quality start" but he hung tough despite a 12 day layoff from his last start and falling into an early hole, without seeing a ton of rubber to get in the flow of the game. Not an easy situation, but welcome to life as a Pittsburgh Penguin backup goalie.
- Murray made a couple of really nice saves in OT though to keep the team in it, and then stoned Jack Eichel on a breakaway with about 30 seconds left in OT.
Not the cleanest of games, by any means, but a pretty useful one considering the Pens only have 1 more of their final 6 games against a current non-playoff team. Nice to take these 2 points (especially considering NYI won tonight as well), give Fleury a rare night off, and move on to the next one on Thursday.