Same group of skaters and lines for the Penguins as they used yesterday, with the lone change coming in net with Casey DeSmith getting the start.
DeSmith’s long Buffalo shutout streak comes to an end in a hurry just 26 seconds in during the first shift. The Pens get caught in the offensive zone and lose the puck. Dylan Cozens makes a really nice pass on the 2-on-1 to Arttu Ruotsalainen and the young forward quickly releases a shot. 1-0 Buffalo early.
Not much else happens in the first. Sleepy start for the Pens and they make it tougher for themselves to get on track by taking two minor penalties in the first. Buffalo doesn’t score but it’s enough to keep Pittsburgh out of rhythm early.
Shots in the first are 12-9 Pens.
Just like in the first, the Sabres strike early in the second period as well. Evan Rodrigues can’t carry the puck out of the zone and Sam Reinhart makes them pay by snapping a shot that appears to hit off Marcus Pettersson’s foot and into the net. 2-0.
Rest of the period just kind of ambles on. The Penguins get the first of only two power play chances on the day and, much like the rest of their game it just isn’t very sharp.
Jason Zucker looks pass all the way on a 2-on-1 that’s easy to identify and doesn’t work just as a microcosm of the Pens’ game today. A bit too slow, a bit too off.
Shots in the second are 13-9 Pens. Dustin Tokarski is playing well and doing his part, but the Pens aren’t challenging him a lot through the first 40 minutes either.
Pettersson goes to the box to give the Sabres their third power play and this time Reinhart cashes in for his second goal of the game. He rips it short side, glove side on DeSmith. 3-0 Buffalo.
Pittsburgh gets on the board and makes a bit of a game out of this when Zucker fires in a shot off an offensive zone faceoff win. 3-1 with 9:42 left gives a glimmer of hope to climb back into the game.
Let's build this momentum!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 18, 2021
Zucker scores quickly off the faceoff. McCann and Carter get the assists. That's Carter's first point as a member of the Penguins. pic.twitter.com/pzjYDOD9Xf
A minute later is the Pens’ best last chance when they get their second and final power play of the game. They squander it.
Rasmus Asplund scores an empty net goal with 1:48 left to make the score 4-1 and pretty much seal the deal.
But, Teddy Blueger knocks in a goal with 23 seconds left that probably only makes his agent happy for an extra goal at the end of the season for contract negotiations. 4-2.
- After yesterday’s win, this one had a different feel. Right from the start with Buffalo scoring on the opening shift, it just set a different tone that carried over.
- John Marino said it best shortly after the game: “ “I think they outworked us a little bit harder today. We got off to a flat start and they got some chances early... It was too much to come back.”
- In some ways McCann scoring that goal from behind the net yesterday might have been a net negative event for the Pens. Different and various players tried a similar shot from behind the net with no angle at least a half a dozen times since McCann hit it. It’s a low percentage deal for a reason, and not much else came from it.
- To me, Zucker is a guy who stands out for some of his mistakes and poor reads, because he plays with speed and plays with the puck and doesn’t blend in. It was nice to see Zucker score a goal towards the end to at least not leave a totally sour taste for this game.
- Great game for Tokarski. Didn’t feel like the Pens had that normal juice, but Tokarski was stellar, having to again play both ends of a back-to-back. He’s a well-worn journeyman who had to make a lot of stops before getting back into the NHL. It’s not nice to see it come against your team, but there is something to appreciate about a battler who has to wait a long time between successes. It was well-earned for Tokarski in this 60 minutes.
- Well....At least no one got hurt.
The Pens get to go home for a while and see the New Jersey Devils next. The long winning streak against Buffalo is over, but Pittsburgh is still 5-1-0 vs them on the season. It’s tough to literally win every game, home or road, tired or rested. Sometimes the other team finds a way to win too. Onto the next.