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RECAP: Penguins Win Back-to-Back Set Over Sabres

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For the first time this season, the Penguins were looking to win a set of back-to-back games.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

The Penguins (14-10-3) took on the Sabres (6-16-4) in the second half of their home-and-home/back-to-back series. This time, the Penguins were in the comfy confines of PPG Paints Arena. 24 hours removed from his first career shutout, Tristan Jarry would be between the pipes again. Here is the rest of the Penguins lineup:

The Sabres looked like this:

1st Period

With 15:51 left in the period, Sam Reinhart was caught high-sticking Matt Hunwick to give the Penguins their first power-play of the night. While the Penguins came out with a lot of pep in their step, the power-play resulted in nothing and 5v5 would continue.

A few moments later, Jarry was upended by Hudson Fasching, goalie interference was called, and the Penguins were given another power-play to work with. The Buffalo penalty kill was very aggressive and as such, this penalty was killed.

Johan Larsson was called for cross-checking Jake Guentzel, giving the Penguins their third consecutive power-play. This penalty was successfully killed. The Penguins were now 0-3 on their first period power-plays.

With 4 minutes left, Ryan Reaves was called for hooking Josh Gorges. It was Buffalo’s turn to show what they could do with the man advantage. And they could do nothing.

At 18:44, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel had the Sabres caught in a 2-on-1 and Geno would not be denied to give the Pens a late first period lead.

The horn would soon sound with the Penguins holding onto a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.

It wasn’t a pretty sight seeing Pittsburgh go 0-3 on the power-play in the period, but they controlled play throughout the first twenty minutes and were rewarded with a goal.

Here are the numbers through the first period:

2nd Period

The Sabres came out wit the same physical presence they had in the first period. They made it a point to create more traffic in front of Jarry, but he stood tall.

Six minutes into the period, Carl Hagelin was able to get down low in front of Chad Johnson and was able to elevate the puck to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. This was his first goal in twenty games.

With 12:51 left in the period, Pittsburgh was given a bench minor by having too many men on the ice. The Penguins would soon kill the penalty to preserve their lead.

The Sabres were awarded with their third consecutive power-play when Brian Dumoulin was called for interference with 4:45 left in the second. The Penguins penalty killing unit was superb here again, as they killed this penalty.

Right after the penalty was killed, Benoit Pouliot and Evgeni Malkin engaged in a scuffle and both players were sent off with matching cross checking minors. Buffalo’s Kyle Criscuolo was then called for holding, giving the Penguins a 4-on-3 advantage late in the period.

Right at the 19:00 minute mark, Sidney Crosby gave a backhand pass to the stick of Patric Hornqvist and the Penguins took a 3-0 lead.

20 seconds after this, Buffalo was penalized again when Marco Scandella was called for a delay of game penalty. The period would end with the Penguins taking 1:18 of power-play time into the final frame.

The numbers after 40:

3rd Period

Three minutes into the period, Pittsburgh was penalized again when Olli Maatta was called for hooking Jordan Nolan. This power-play would amount to nothing for Buffalo.

With 12:51 left in regulation, Jordan Nolan found himself on the wrong side of a penalty, as he was caught slashing Ian Cole. The penalty expired, but the Penguins were able to keep the 3-0 lead intact.

With 8:42 left, Jack Eichel was able to give a great one-time pass to Jason Pominville to cut the deficit to two goals. This was Buffalo’s first goal since November 24.

Buffalo’s elation would only last for a few brief moments, however, as Phil Kessel took his signature snipe down the right wing to restore the Penguins’ 3-goal lead.

Sidney Crosby would bury an empty-netter to but a nice bow on this one.

Time dwindled down, the final horn blew, and the Penguins would be declared the victors by a score of 5-1.

Final Thoughts

  • Tristan Jarry was spectacular for the second night in a row. Two wins in two nights is quite the accomplishment. Pittsburgh's goaltending situation looks to be in very good hands without Matt Murray.
  • The level of competition is irrelevant at this point; the Penguins will take back-to-back victories over the lowly Sabres ten times out of ten.
  • December is off to a great start for the Penguins, and as our own Robbie Naugle pointed out a few days ago, Christmas may come early for the Penguins with a much lighter schedule on tap throughout the rest of the month.
  • The Penguins will return to action on Tuesday when they host the New York Rangers.