Penguins Unleash Offense, Finish Season Sweep of Sabres

The Pittsburgh Penguins completed a 4-game season sweep of the Buffalo Sabres for the first time in franchise history by beating them soundly 7-3.  The Penguins continue to deal with an injury riddled lineup as Sidney Crosby and Max Talbot both sat out due to aggravation of their high ankle sprains.  However, despite dressing only 3-centers for the game, the Penguins found plenty of offense as 7-different players found the back of the net, including Chris Minard who picked up his first NHL goal.  Tyler Kennedy had a career game posting 3-points (1G, 2A).  Ty Conklin completed his dominance over the Sabres by saving 29-of-32 shots.  The win puts the Penguins back on top of the Eastern Conference in a points tie with the Canadiens, but with the advantage in games won.

In the 1st period, Tyler Kennedy put the Penguins on the board early with an amazing goal at 3:30.  Pascal Dupuis made a pass up ice to Kennedy who broke in on Ryan Miller and put the puck behind his outstretched leg for the goal.  The Penguins were outshot 8-7 in the first, were 0-for-1 on the power play and killed off 2 penalties against Connor James (tripping) and Petr Sykora (holding). 

In the 2nd period, Georges Laraque took a 5-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct on an innocent looking hit on defenseman Nathan Paetsch.  Paetsch laid motionless on the ice for several minutes before finally getting up and leaving the ice under his own power.  In the ensuing 5-minute penalty kill, the Penguins went on the offensive and took control of the game, eventually drawing a penalty on Maxime Afinogenov to even it up 4-on-4.  During the 4-on-4 play, Jeff Taffe beat Ryan Miller to make it 2-0.  Darryl Sydor and Kris Letang were credited with the assists.  Then at 18:08 while on the power play, Sergei Gonchar let a shot rip from just inside the blueline that deflected past a screened Ryan Miller to make it 3-0.  Ryan Whitney and Petr Sykora picked up the assists.  The Penguins outshot the Sabres 14-10 in the 2nd, were 1-for-2 on the power play and killed off the extended penalty to Georges Laraque. 

In the 3rd, the scoresheet filled up as a total of 7-goals were scored between the 2-teams.  The first goal went to the Penguins just 56 seconds into the period when Petr Sykora beat Ryan Miller on the power play to put the Penguins up 4-0.  Ryan Malone made a beautiful play to strip a Buffalo player of the puck and then dish it to Sykora who fired it into a wide open net.  Sergei Gonchar got the other assist.  Then, the Buffalo Sabres showed their first signs of life as they scored an even strength goal at 3:02 from Jochen Hecht with assists by Mike Weber and Maxim Afinogenov.  Then, with the Penguins on the power play, the Sabres’ Daniel Paille managed to skate in and beat Ty Conklin short-handed.  Derek Roy and Henrik Tallinder picked up the assists.  But the Penguins got it back at 8:56 on a power play goal by Evgeni Malkin, his 39th goal of the season.  Darryl Sydor and Tyler Kennedy got credited with the assists.  Then, just over a minute later, Jordan Staal made a great pass to Chris Minard who fired the puck past Ryan Miller for his first NHL career goal to make the score 6-2.  Ryan Stone picked up the other assist.  The goal resulted in Ryan Miller being replaced by former Penguin Jocelyn Thibault.  Just 46-seconds later, the Sabres managed another goal as Daniel Paille made a great play on the doorstep against Ty Conklin.  Steve Bernier picked up the assist.  The Penguins closed out the scoring on a hard shot by Kris Letang that found its way past Thibault.  Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis got the assists.  The Penguins outshot the Sabres 15-13 in the 3rd, and were 2-for-3 on the power play.  The Penguins had no penalties in the 3rd.

Tyler Kennedy had a 3-point night (1G, 2A) and several players picked up 2-points, including Darryl Sydor (2A), Pascal Dupuis (2A), Petr Sykora (1G, 1A), Sergei Gonchar (1G, 1A) and Kris Letang (1G, 1A).  Evgeni Malkin notched 1-point (1G) on the night to maintain 2nd place in the NHL scoring race with 93-points, 4-points behind fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin who picked up 2-goals in his game on Wednesday.  The Penguins improved their record to 40-24-7, for 87-points.  The win tonight regained their lead of the Atlantic Division over the New Jersey Devils (86-points), and the Eastern Conference over the Montreal Canadiens (87-points, but 1 less win than the Penguins).  The Devils (12-games remaining) have a game in hand against the Penguins (11-games remaining).    

The Penguins have a few more days off before hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, a noon game that will be broadcast as NBC’s game of the week.  The Penguins will hope to get Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa back for that game, but only time will tell if they are both healthy enough to play. 

Leave a reply