The Pittsburgh Penguins gave up 2-goals in the 3rd period and posted none of their own as they lost to the Buffalo Sabres on the road on Friday night 4-3. John Curry’s first start in goal for the Penguins didn’t go the way he wanted it, despite a couple of spectacular saves late in the game. He ended up stopping 28-of-32 shots for a 0.875 save percentage. But don’t pin the blame on Curry. The Penguins’ defense failed to keep the front of the net cleared, and most of the Sabres’ goals came from the traffic in close. The Penguins faltering power play resulted in numerous missed opportunities as they went 0-for-7 on the night.
The Penguins were first to get on the scoreboard at 10:29 of the 1st period as Tyler Kennedy took a cross crease pass from Matt Cooke and popped it into the net. Rob Scuderi picked up the other assist. The goal was Kennedy’s 6th on the season and it was Cooke’s 7th assist. Less than a minute later, however, the Sabres tied it up at 1-1 as Drew Stafford wristed a puck past John Curry. Maxim Afinogenov and Jaroslav Spacek picked p the assists on the play. The Penguins went 0-for-3 on the powerplay and 1-for-1 on the kill as they outshot the Sabres 12-11.
In the 2nd period, the Penguins’ defense took a blow when Philippe Boucher left the game after one shift due to an unsepcified injury. He didn’t return. The Buffalo Sabres took the lead at 12:21 as they scored on the power play while Brooks Orpik sat for an interference call. Paul Gaustad picked up his first goal of the season on the tip-in, with assists from Drew Stafford and Mark Mancari to make it 2-1. Just 34-seconds later, however, Sidney Crosby tied it back up at 2-2 as he collected a rebound off from Evgeni Malkin’s shot and whacked the puck out of mid-air and into the net. Then at 19:04, Evgeni Malkin created a Buffalo turnover and sent Sidney Crosby streaking in on net. Crosby faked a slapper and then snapped the puck into the far side of the net, beating Ryan Miller to give the Penguins a 3-2 advantage. Evgeni Malkin provided the lone assist on both of Crosby’s goals. The 2nd period was the Penguins best offensive effort of the game as they outshot the Sabres 15-11, but the power play again came up empty on 4 attempts. The Penguins penalty kill was 1-for-2.
In the final period, the Penguins offense withered as they only managed to get off 3-shots on net while the Sabres fired 10-shots and connected for 2 goals. The Sabres tied the game just 3:11 into the third on Drew Stafford’s second goal of the game. Off the rush, Stafford redirected Thomas Vanek’s pass to beat Curry on the open side. Then at 16:36, Paul Gaustad redirected a Jason Pominville pass by Curry to put Buffalo ahead for good. There were no penalties called in the 3rd period.
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Sidney Crosby picked up 2-goals and led the team in shots with 5. Kris Letang and Tyler Kennedy each posted 4-shots, while Evgeni Malkin only had 1 shot on the evening. Evgeni Malkin did pick up 2 more assists to boost his NHL-leading points total to 37. He is 7-points ahead of #2 Alexander Ovechkin (30) and leads the league with 27 assists, 5 ahead of Boston’s Marc Savard. In the faceoff circle, Tyler Kennedy was 2/2 (100%), Max Talbot was 4/5 (80%) and Mike Zigomanis was 7/12 (58%). Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Eaton were healthy scratches. WBS call-up Janne Pesonen skated 6:02 and had no shots on goal. Sidney Crosby led all players in ice time with 24:29, with Evgeni Malkin second at 23:25. Kris Letang led all defensemen with 23:14.
The loss was just the Penguins’ 2nd regulation loss in November. They return to Mellon Arena on Saturday to take on the New Jersey Devils.