Aftermath: Sabres 4, Penguins 3
Tuesday, 12.29.2009 / 10:35 PM ET / Features
By Sam Kasan
|The Penguins looked like the dominant team from early in the season when they rang up victory after victory during the opening portion of their game at Buffalo. Pittsburgh controlled play with a workman like efficiency and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.
However, a goaltending change and penalty shot altered the course of fate. Ryan Miller was yanked and Patrick Lalime mananged to stiffle Pittsburgh's attack, blanking the Penguins the rest of the way. Drew Stafford's penalty shot score got Buffalo on the board and the Sabres scored four unanswered goals to pull off the improbable win.
|BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Jason Pominville scored with 9:05 left to complete the Buffalo Sabres' rally from a three-goal deficit and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 Tuesday night.|
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT|
Jordan Staal celebrates his first-period goal with Tyler Kennedy
(photo by Getty)
|What Went Well: Getting a Strong Start
The Penguins got back to their game in a big way at the beginning of their matchup with the Sabres. Pittsburgh's offensive attack was relentless, held a lopsided advantage in possession time and racked up 29 shots in the first two periods alone. In the process, the Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead and chased Vezina-candidate Ryan Miller from the net.
What Could Have Gone Better: Getting a Strong Finish
However, the Penguins were not able to hold on to their lead and the early success faded. Pittsburgh continued to get strong offensive pressure but couldn't solve netminder Patrick Lalime. Meanwhile, the Sabres managed to chip away at Pittsburgh's lead and eventually pull off the come-from-behind victory.
|Even though he sat on the bench for the first 21:38 minutes of the game, Patrick Lalime's impact on the game cannot be understated. After relieving Ryan Miller of his duties, Lalime stopped all 27 shots he face from Pittsburgh.
The Penguins ramped up the pressure on Lalime and he was equal to the task. He turned away scoring chance after scoring chance. He gave his team a chance to get back in the game.
|The Penguins took an early lead just four minutes into the game. Tyler Kennedy, who was scratched in the previous game, retrieved his own chipped puck in the Buffalo zone and got a shot off from the lower near circle. Goaltender Ryan Miller kicked out the rebound into the slot to Jordan Staal, who shot it into the net. Pittsburgh 1, Buffalo 0.
The Penguins added to their lead with a tally with only 1:29 left in the opening period. Bill Guerin's shot sneaked into the cage from the far halfwall. The Penguins did a great job of keeping the pressure on in the offensive zone, thanks to some great pinches by the defense. Guerin collected the puck and put a perfect shot under Miller's blocker for the score. Pittsburgh 2, Buffalo 0.
Pittsburgh added its third goal of the game 1:28 into the second period. Thanks to some great breakout passing, the Penguins carried the puck into the Sabres zone for a three-on-three, but none of the Sabres picked up Chris Kunitz trailing the play as the third-man high. Crosby found Kunitz in the high slot. Kunitz blasted the puck into the goal for the score and Miller was pulled from the net. Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 0.
During a scrum in the Penguins crease, Jay McKee smothered the puck and Buffalo was awarded a penalty shot. Drew Stafford buried the shot five-hole on Marc-Andre Fleury to get Buffalo on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 1.
The Sabres pulled within one goal with a tally with five minutes left in the second frame. Clarke MacArthur took a shot from the slot. The rebound came out to Stafford, who stickhandled around Fleury and slid the puck into the goal. Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 2.
The Sabres tied the game 7:28 into the third period. Buffalo carried the puck into the Penguins zone and drove to the net. Stafford made a strong move to the goal and found Paul Gaustad to the side of the crease. Gaustad re-directed the rubber over the goal line to tie the game. Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 3.
Jason Pominville gave Buffalo its first lead of the game with a power-play goal off of a give-and-go with Tim Connolly. Pominville had the puck on the far wall, gave it to Connolly along the goal line and skated towards the net. Connolly passed right back to Pominville, who roofed a shot into the far corner of the goal. Buffalo 4, Pittsbugh 3.
|Pittsburgh got a boost to its lineup with the return of Mark Eaton on defense. Eaton missed the last three games with a knee injury. The Penguins sat down Martin Skoula and Ruslan Fedotenko.
The Penguins had a couple scares when Alex Goligoski and Marc-Andre Fleury were shaken up at different junctures of the game. Goligoski blocked a shot off of his knee and hobbled to the bench. He returned to the game. Fleury was winded after Thomas Vanek fell on his chest in the crease. Fleury was able to regain his composure and finished the game.
|> Pittsburgh dropped to 26-13-1 on the season with a 13-6 mark on the road. The Penguins lost for only the fifth time in regulation in their last 18 contests (12-5-1), but have dropped three of its past four games.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, J.Staal (11), 4:08 1st period: Penguins 1, Sabres 0
PIT, B.Guerin (12), 18:31 1st period: Penguins 2, Sabres 0
PIT, C.Kunitz (6), 1:28 2nd period: Penguins 3, Sabres 0
BUF, D.Stafford PS (8), 12:46 2nd period: Penguins 3, Sabres 1
BUF, D.Stafford (9), 14:55 2nd period: Penguins 3, Sabres 2
BUF, P.Gaustad (8), 7:28 3rd period: Penguins 3, Sabres 3
BUF, J.Pominville PP (10), 10:55 3rd period: Sabres 4, Penguins 3
> The Penguins are now 44-16-5 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 21-8-3 on the road.
> The Penguins lost for only the third time under Bylsma when leading after the two periods. The team still boasts an impressive 26-3-1 mark. It was also only the third loss under Bylsma when netting the first goal (29-3-2).
> Sidney Crosby posted an assist and now has 23 points (11G-12A) in the last 13 games he’s played.
> Bill Guerin scored his third goal in the last three games. He has six points (3G-3A) over that span.
> Chris Kunitz scored a goal and has five points (2G-3A) in his last three contests.
|THREE STARS||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT|
|“That's why the coaches always tell you to shoot the puck. They will go in from anywhere.”
- Bill Guerin
Author: Sam Kasan