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Penguins clinch playoff berth with 3-1 win in Buffalo

Sidney Crosby scores a goal for the ages and the Penguins score a couple of goals in the 3rd period to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 and clinch a playoff spot for the 11th consecutive season!

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports


Frankie Corrado makes his Penguins debut as a call-up and Oskar Sundqvist is back and in for the injured Tom Sestito. Matt Murray gets back in the net as well.

1st period

Fairly wide open game early, lots of shots and chances at both ends. 9 minutes into the game comes the first impactful moment, Rasmus Ristolainen hits Jake Guentzel way late, to the head and causes big time damage. For the first time in a long time, the refs on the ice assess a correct call on a play like this: 5 minute for interference, game misconduct. Huge hit, just can't do this so reckless to go in and slam in backwards on a guy without even seeing puck, should be a suspension coming too. Guentzel to the locker-room.

Pens have a chance to get up early on a bad Sabres team (that's down to 5 defensemen with Ristolainen ejected) but they do not score. Don't even come close really, a dreadful power play with almost as many icings (1) and shots on goal (2). Then they give up a better shot than they get immediately after but Murray stops.

Pittsburgh looks like they're dragging through the motions until Sidney Crosby steps up late in the period on another power play. He skates through all 4 Sabres players (none of them looking very interested in playing either) then chips a one-handed, back-hand shot past Robin Lehner who has no idea that one was coming. Wow. Another, goal #41 on the year is another one for the highlight reel


Shots 13-13 on the period, which isn't very good considering the Pens had 5:39 on the power play (0:00 short handed). Murray was pretty sharp and what can you say about that Crosby goal.

2nd period

No Guentzel for the 2nd period and no goals either. Pittsburgh plays a lot better and outshots Buffalo 12-6 in the middle period.

3rd period

The Sabres get an early period equalizer, Mark Streit blocks the first shot of Sam Reinhart, but Reinhart follows his rebound and actually gets a better angle and more space to flip it past Murray. 1-1.

Pens get another power play but again no dice. Buffalo (best PP in the league by percentage, surprisingly enough) but the Pittsburgh PK gets it done.

Finally the Pens get back on the board, Ian Cole take the puck to the net, a bit of a fortunate bounce to get the puck back to Nick Bonino who shoots on Robin Lehner and the puck somehow ramps on in. 2-1.

Pittsburgh makes it 3-1 late, Conor Sheary gets credit for the goal, he just threw it on net then got really lucky when Zemgus Girgensons accidentally knocks it back into his own net. 3-1.

Pens get an empty net chance late but high character guy Evander Kane chops out a couple of Crosby's teeth and that'll be the game.

Jokes on Kane, those were fakes anyways.

Some Thoughts

  • Just an unreal goal by Crosby.
  • Corrado may have gotten a jersey but the icetime sure wasn't too free. About stapled to the bench in the 3rd period. It's not really the coach's fault but with so many games in such a short period of time, it's tough to have so many injuries to the point you can't/don't trust but 4 or 5 defensemen that are left.
  • Also pretty disappointing, without much blame, that one injury puts Chris Kunitz back on the first line. Just isn't the same but not much else that can be done.
  • Six goals in the last 8 now for Bonino. A hat trick a few games back really helps in stats like that, but hey, it counts just the same.
  • O'Reilly crushed it against Crosby in the faceoff circle all night, Sid recently said that guys who are using the stick as a stalemate and then using their feet to win pucks (becoming increasingly popular and effective) gives him a lot of problems...In case you might be curious what little skill he might focus on to improve over the summer.
  • Nice game to win, but one that the Pens needed to have. They have the better team, Buffalo played last night PLUS they lost arguably their best defenseman early. Could see Pittsburgh pulling away in the 3rd period from a mile away based on the circumstantial signs, and indeed they did.
  • Hopefully Guentzel was OK. He was left bloody (possibly from his visor) but the replays show his head snapping back, he never saw the check coming. And it was big. And he might have even hit the ice too. We didn't see him after that but hopefully somehow he will be able to be back before too long.