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Penguins/Sabres Game Recap: Pens blow another lead, lose sixth straight

The wheels fall off yet again as the Pens blow another multi-goal third period lead and lose 6-3 in Buffalo

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images


Both the Penguins and Sabres gear up in their ‘90s inspired “reverse” retro jerseys and Kris Letang is able to recover from his illness in time to don the new gear. Casey DeSmith is in goal for the second game of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back, otherwise all the forward lines remain the same.

First period

The Pens play a more controlled start than some previous games, and strike for the first goal of the evening. Early in the shift Evgeni Malkin dropped Rasmus Dahlin with a big open ice hit, and soon after he was carrying the puck on a developing 2-on-1. Malkin laid a perfect pass over for the left handed Jason Zucker to hammer from the right side of the ice and Zucker gets a lot on it to smoke past Eric Comrie.

Shots in the first end up 11-6, but a pretty good road first period by the Pens. They stay out of the box early on, they keep the puck out of the net. These days, that counts for something.

Second period

The Pens get the game’s second goal on another 2-on-1 rush, this time provided by their fourth line. Brock McGinn starts the play defensively holding the puck, drawing some Sabres in and bumping the puck out and quickly Pittsburgh is on the attack. Ryan Poehling drives the puck deep and puts a nice hard pass over for Josh Archibald to re-direct up and in the net. 2-0 RoboPens.

Malkin takes the game’s first penalty with an offensive zone penalty, but it’s a short power play as Buffalo takes an o-zone penalty of their own to end it. The Pens almost catch Buffalo in a terrible change, but decide to over-pass the puck instead.

Buffalo scores with 1:09 remaining, a long sequence of zone time pays off when Owen Power passes over to J.J. Peterka. Peterka is to the outside but fires through a lot of traffic in front and the puck finds its way through the jumble and into the net.

The Sabres take a penalty late and the Pens will carryover on the power play in the third..

Shots in the second period were 9-8 in favor of Buffalo. Only an underwhelming 14 total shots in the game through 40 minutes for Pittsburgh. The Sabres only have 20 themselves.

Third period

Sidney Crosby wins the opening faceoff back to Kris Letang who drifts back. Somehow this lulls Buffalo to sleep and they end up giving a clean breakaway to Jake Guentzel a few seconds into the period. Gotta be some kind of record. Anyways, Guentzel barrels in alone and does what he does, bury the puck blocker side on Comrie to extend the lead to 3-1.

DeSmith trips up a Sabre and Buffalo goes back to the power play, and this time they get on the board. Big Tage Thompson really leans into a slapshot one-timer from the left circle to blast it in. He makes the game a 3-2 Pens lead with still 16:39 left to go in regulation.

Buffalo gets the tie when Owen Power makes a first overall type of play. Malkin fails to clear the zone and the big defender Power loads up for a shot and everyone bites — except Power doesn’t shoot, he goes back against the grain to setup Victor Olofsson for a slam dunk goal. Game tied at three as the Pens blow another lead.

Mike Sullivan takes his timeout at to stop the momentum, but it doesn’t work. Buffalo keeps control of the puck and Guentzel takes a slashing penalty to put the creaky Pens’ PK back to work.

The PK holds but it’s not long before Buffalo takes the lead anyways. Pettersson gets trapped deep, Jeff Petry can’t stop Tage Thompson from passing down to Alex Tuch who is all alone and just steers it past DeSmith and Buffalo is up 4-3.

Pettersson then sweeps the puck away from Jeff Skinner but Petry finishes a check and the refs call interference.

The Pens pull their goalie, but can’t make much of it. Kyle Okposo slams in an empty netter and then Olofsson gets a second to set the 6-3 final.

Some thoughts

  • Casey DeSmith appeared in career NHL game No. 100 tonight.
  • Really liked the game by Marcus Pettersson in this one, if looking for bright spots. His gap control was on point and he was jutting out his stick to dispossess Sabres and break up chances all game long. Pettersson is a subtle player when he’s on his game, and he is in a good groove right now.
  • Archibald found the back of the net for the second game in a row, and is showing some of that 10ish goal upside in a season that he’s had in the last few years. Throw in the energy and the forechecking/hits and that’s exactly what the coaches want from him. The whole McGinn-Poehling-Archibald line might not be much longer together if/when Jeff Carter and/or Teddy Blueger return, but they have been very effective in recent games.
  • What did we make of seeing the return of the “RoboPen” logo back on the ice? I just can’t get past the yellow shoulders, from some side and back angles it looked too much like a Bruins jersey to me. But, hey, at least it’s not the white pants that Buffalo has to wear on their reverse retro jerseys. Not the most pleasing of looks.
  • Nice for Zucker to get his first goal since opening night.
  • Overall it looked like the Penguins ran out of gas in the b-2-b. Just too sloppy, too many mistakes and another multi-goal blown lead. Frustrations have to be at a tipping point after another game where everything just fell apart again.

The Pens now get a few days home to rest and prep for a shot at redemption when they see a Seattle team that just beat them last week on Saturday, this time in Pittsburgh.