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Penguins/Sabres Recap: Best. Tristan. Ever. Pens shut out Buffalo

Tristan Jarry shuts out the Sabres in a 4-0 win. Goals by Kuhnhackl, Crosby, Guentzel and Hornqvist.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports


Welcome back, Evgeni Malkin! Greg McKegg ventures into healthy scratch territory for the first time in the season to make room for Geno. Ian Cole gets out of the doghouse and back in the game, Chad Ruhwedel sits.

1st period

With the Penguins controlling play early, a shift change on the fly catches Pittsburgh’s 4th line on the ice against the Sabres 1st line. A goal is scored on a nice display of skill..

..And it was by Tom Kuhnhackl who earned a penalty shot and expertly finished it with a quick shot over the glove of Robin Lehner.

The Penguins strike again to make it 2-0 when Rasmus Ristolainen makes cardinal sin #1 as a hockey player by making a weak pass right up the middle of the ice from behind his goal. Unfortunately for him it was right as Sidney Crosby got on the ice and jumped into the slot to intercept the ill-fated pass. Goal. 2-0.

Pittsburgh adds a 3rd goal with just under two minutes left in the period, Jake Guentzel sweeps around the net and beats Lehner to the far-post on a wraparound goal for his 12th of the season. 3-0 good guys.

Shots end up 11-9 Pens.

2nd period

The Sabres get 2 power plays and get almost no zone time with is. Just an ugly, disjointed looking team right now.

The Pens get their first power play of the game and the first group with Justin Schultz can’t even get in the blue line with control and that penalty is killed off rather easily as well.

Tristan Jarry makes a few nice saves from point-blank range on Sam Reinhart. He then gets a little lucky with a Marco Scandella shot hitting the knob of his stick but when you’re livin’ right, you’re livin’ right.

After a Carl Hagelin penalty (sigh) gets killed off, the Pens top line strikes, all the Sabres are watching Conor Sheary which is bad since Patric Hornqvist sneaks in and roofs a puck to make it 4-0 late in the 2nd.

Shots are actually 16-12 Buffalo for the period. Scoreboard is a lot more lopsided 4-0 for Pittsburgh

3rd period

Zzzz. Very quiet period. Brian Dumoulin takes a penalty, Buffalo power play is atrocious and can’t do anything. Through 15:00 played in the 3rd, shots in the period are 4-0 Buffalo, score effects are in effect.

Evander Kane adds a little spice to the game, hitting Bryan Rust from behind into the boards in an unnecessary manner. Rust responds by punching Kane (which probably isn’t a great idea, but hey). A minor scrum ensues.

And, well, that’s about it. The Sabres just want to get this over with and the Pens don’t mind getting out of town with a really easy win.

Some Thoughts

  • Random note that surprised and amused me- Kuhnhackl was awarded a +1 in the +/- ratings for his penalty shot goal. No one else picked up a plus or minus, which makes sense being as he’s the only guy on the ice at the time of the goal, I guess I just never realized or caught that.
  • According to Carl Hagelin on the bench in an interview with ATT&T Sports’ Bob Errey, Malkin hollered at Kuhnhackl with advice to go high-glove side for his penalty shot. Not sure if that put the idea in his mind, but that’s where he went and it worked.
  • In his first game as the top uninjured goalie, Tristan Jarry was gifted with a 2 goal lead before Buffalo even had a shot on goal. Nice of his teammates to be in the holiday spirit like that.
  • But Jarry still had to battle and make some strong saves, which he did. Very encouraging night for Jarry who looked comfortable and steady. Good thing, since he’ll have to be the guy for the immediate future with Matt Murray having what’s believed to be a 2-3 week injury.
  • Speaking of the goalies, as of tonight the Pens healthy goaltending tandem of Jarry and Casey DeSmith have 5 career NHL starts (all Jarry). That’s gotta be the lowest combination for Pittsburgh in a long, long time, right? Or was there a time when Murray/Jarry were a combo 2 seasons ago that weren’t too much more seasoned. Either way, a stunning lack of NHL work but the only way to get experience is to play.
  • Guentzel (7 goals in last 7 games) and Crosby (4g in last 4) are starting to heat up big time with consistent scoring. Very nice! Pittsburgh has shot the lowest % in the league and some big guns like 59 and 87 haven’t been scoring as much as expected, and that tide is starting to regress in a good way. Your turn, 71...
  • 4 even strength goals for the Pens! That’s like, a whole month’s worth this season, already! (OK, maybe not, but feels like it)
  • The Sabres have been shutout now in 3 straight games. Not great, Bob!

Same two teams meet again tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. Given how things have played out and how weak Buffalo is, the Pens probably wouldn’t mind playing these guys every night of the week.