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RECAP: No one circles the wagons like the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

OK, yeah, so Buffalo isn’t that good. The Pens enjoy an easy night for a 5-2 win over the Sabres

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images


Penguins roll out as expected with Tristan Jarry in net and one slight chance with Zach Aston-Reese jumping up a line.

First period

The Pens open it up 7:36 in when Mark Jankowski makes a nice pass up for Sam Lafferty. Lafferty sauces a really nice pass (don’t say that every day) for Evan Rodrigues who is cutting to the net and has an easy task to redirect the puck in. 1-0 Pittsburgh.

The Pens then get a second, disrupting the Buffalo breakout. A bit of a broken play with a Sidney Crosby pass deflecting out into space and Kris Letang is Johnny on the spot to quickly snap it past Dustin Tokarski to make it 2-0.

The Sabres don’t go away just yet, off an offensive draw win Rasmus Dahlin shoots from deep and Tristan Jarry can’t track it. 2-1 Pens.

Rasmus Ristolainen takes a penalty late in the period but the Pens don’t capitalize.

Shots through one are 21-12 Pittsburgh. That’s no misprint, the Pens had a shooting gallery going and could have scored several more goals if not for a bit of bad luck.

Second period

Ristolainen takes another penalty but the Pens again can’t take advantage on the power play.

A bit later John Marino takes a very weak offensive zone hooking call where his stick barely got into the guy, but, ehh, that’s the NHL for you. Up 2-1 at up 2-0 in power plays this is just how it goes. The edge is quickly reversed when Dahlin takes a penalty to negate the Buffalo power play.

The Pens get some breathing room late when Jared McCann circles the net and finds John Marino for a quick shot and it’s 3-1.

Then in the last minute Mark Jankowski takes another weak offensive zone penalty when he barely pushes a player who does the old flop and Buffalo is on the power play again...But it’s the Pens who score. Frederick Gaudreau does well to break up a pass attempt and makes a strong cut to the inside to get by Dahlin and he’s off to the races. Gaudreau though opts to drop a pass for Zach Aston-Reese who is trailing the play and has an easy goal. 4-1 Pens and it’s officially out of reach now.

Shots in the second are 13-6 Pittsburgh, who continue to pour it on. Overall it’s a 34-18 shot advantage for the Pens who are just clearly outclassing Buffalo.

Third period

At 4v4 play after a penalty for each team and 3:57 into the period, Crosby gets on the board as Jake Guentzel springs the captain on a partial breakaway. The puck might have rolled a bit on Sid, but he was looking short-side and he found it. 5-1 Pens.

Score effects set in as the Pens ease up and Buffalo keeps pushing. Victor Olofsson gets behind the defense and Mike Matheson hacks at him, earning a penalty shot for Buffalo. The talented Olofsson makes no mistake with a quick deke and pulls the puck forehand for a quick shot low and to the blocker side of Jarry to make it a 5-2 game.

Shots in the third end up 10-8 Buffalo as the Pens pretty much just play out the stretch and get out of here with a pretty easy home win.

Some thoughts

  • Buffalo just stinks. They have some injury problems and their third string goalie Tokarski looked in over his head for much of the night. He gave up 5 goals, it could have easily been more.
  • Great game for Evan Rodrigues against his old team. Scored a nice goal and was dangerous with several more chances and a super-high 8 shots on goal with 10 total shot attempts. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of competition, but it was nice to see someone rise up and take advantage of it. Rodrigues was arguably the most visible player on the night all game long.
  • The one dull spot from this game might be the status of Kasperi Kapanen. He got hit around the ankle area in the first period but was able to return for a bit. Then he left in the second period and didn’t finish the game. Hopefully this isn’t going to be another case of missed time for the forward group that can’t afford to lose one of their better players in Kapanen.
  • Two of the first three goals were by defensemen. Very good game for them as a group pinching in. Nice to see Marino get only his second goal of the year, taking advantage of the space and finding a good spot to shoot from. Hopefully this adds to his confidence and he can build on it.
  • A goal, an assists, 7 shots on goal for Sidney Crosby. He’s just continuing to lift the team on his back and putting together great performances on every shift right now.
  • The Pens power play was quiet again, but got some good zone time. The penalty kill was excellent, killing all the chances from a sneaky good Buffalo PP group and even scoring a goal of their own.
  • Speaking of that, out of necessity the Pens are leaning on Gadreau on their PK and he’s doing well there.
  • Pittsburgh boosts their home record to 13-3-1. Always great to protect the home fort and this week’s Buffalo games is going to be a pretty easy way to pad that record for the season.
  • Nice night and there will be lots of smiles in the aftermath. 12 of the 18 skaters in the lineup picked up a point, including some that haven’t found the scoresheet much this season (Jankowski, Marino, Matheson, Lafferty, Gaudreau). Yeah, it’s “just Buffalo” but it’s an NHL game nonetheless.
  • The Sabres losing streak is now up to 15 games. The NHL record is the woeful 2003-04 Pittsburgh team, and right now the lifeless Sabres are looking like they could well threaten that ignominious record. On the bright side though, they should get back starting goalie Linus Ullmark soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, and that might be the little piece of good news that could help. One day.

Great game for the Pens who put two points in their pocket and move on quickly to get this same hapless Buffalo team tomorrow. Hopefully Kapanen will be good to go, but otherwise it was an all systems go night for Pittsburgh to take care of business and even being depleted themselves find a way to look about 1,000 times better than their opposition.