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Penguins vs. Sabres Recap: Pittsburgh powers past depleted Buffalo

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A good team beats a bad one, the Pens take down Buffalo 5-0

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

Lineups

Same lineup as the past few games for the Penguins, with one exception and that’s in net where Casey DeSmith gets the nod for this game against the lowly Sabres.

First period

An almost wholly uneventful period. Marcus Pettersson takes a cross-checking penalty halfway into the first, but Pittsburgh kills it off with ease. DeSmith makes one nice save when a puck hits his glove, more positioning than anything else.

Shots end 9-7 Pittsburgh but, jeez, not much going on.

Second period

The Pens get their first power play of the game, and their first goal too. After seemingly about 47 passes, finally someone decides to shoot and that someone is none other than Phil Kessel who slams home a nice cross-ice pass from Sidney Crosby to open the scoring.

Late in the second, Pittsburgh gets some breathing room. Evgeni Malkin gets started on his NEXT 1,000 points when he controls the puck for a long time, swoops around the net and passes to Brian Dumoulin at the point. Dumoulin gets a wrister on target and Teddy Blueger does well to take the eyes of the goalie Carter Hutton away with a screen. 2-0 Pens.

The Sabres can’t get out of the period only down two goals. They take another penalty, and the Pittsburgh power play scores a second goal in as many chances. This time it’s Patric Hornqvist from in front with a nice back hand shot and a celebratory scream to get some monkeys off his back with just his second goal in his last 25 games.

Shots 12-8 Buffalo in the period.

Third period

Going up 3-0 late in the second really seemed to take whatever weak air the Sabres had in their sails, they’re just doing nothing out there.

Matt Hunwick misplays a puck and Nick Bjugstad steps on the ice and finds the puck right there. A gift from the heavens, to have an instant odd man rush. Bjugstad winds up that big shot he has and lets ‘er rip and it’s 4-0.

The Pens put one more on it on another power play, maybe Jake Guentzel tipping it? Definitely Zach Trotman with the point shot and it’s 5-0 as a final score.

Some Thoughts

  • A low drama game to easily beat a bad team? Who are these guys and what have they done with the Pittsburgh Penguins?
  • But, seriously, tonight was a fourth game in six nights for the Pens. Add in some travel and that’s no joke. It took a while for them to manufacture some energy and some momentum in this game after a dull first period. But as we said in the preview, the challenge in this game was finding a challenge. The opponent wasn’t Boston on a 19-game point streak. It wasn’t a blood rival in Washington on a seven game win streak. It’s easy to get ready for those games, tougher to play at a high level against a bad team.
  • Nice to see DeSmith get in and get a shutout. He didn’t have to do too much, though Sheary did have a few nice shots. DeSmith, quietly, was 1-3 with a .865 save% in his last four and partially because of that, it turned into the Matt Murray show pretty quickly over the last nine starts as Murray was playing well. But with this brutal stretch of March games, a backup is needed and CDS at least plants the seed in his coach’s mind that the #2 goalie is in fine form if called upon again, like for one of the back-to-back games coming up over the weekend.

Pretty quick turnaround to a Saturday afternoon game at home against St. Louis.