Roberts Breaks Leg as Pens Shutout Sabres

The Pittsburgh Penguins played a very strong game and won the first leg of their indoor/outdoor back-to-back series against Buffalo Saturday night as they shut out the Sabres 2-0.  Despite the win, the Penguins suffered a loss in the 2nd period.  After being honored by Ray Shero at the beginning of the game for scoring 900-points in his NHL career, Gary Roberts left the ice midway through the 2nd period with a broken leg (fibula) after Buffalo’s Tim Connolly fell into him akwardly near the Penguins’ blueline.  Roberts, who left the ice with the aid of his teammates, avoided what appeared to be a likely serious ligament injury, but will still be out for an extended period of time, adding to the Pens’ injury woes.   

Ty Conklin got the nod in net and won his 4th straight game by grabbing his first shutout in nearly 2 years and advanced his record to 4-0.  His last shutout came on January 3rd, 2006, playing for the Edmonton Oilers.  Conklin stopped 26 Buffalo shots, including a few real nail biters, and was puck-handling all night like an accomplished 3rd defenseman. 

The 1st period was evenly matched with neither team scoring a goal.  The shots were even at 8, and the only power play opportunity went to the Buffalo Sabres when Ryan Malone sat for tripping.  It was Malone’s first game after missing 5 due to a leg infection.  He spent most of the night on the 2nd line, with Malkin, Crosby and Armstrong staying together on the top line. 

In the 2nd, the Penguins scored a quick goal just 12 seconds into the period.  Sidney Crosby set up the play perfectly by muscling his way past Jochen Hecht to get the puck at the blue line, and then faked a shot before dishing the puck to Colby Armstrong who was going hard to the net with his stick on the ice.  The puck was redirected into the net off from Armstrong’s stick to put the Penguins up 1-0.   Darryl Sydor picked up the other assist for his 3rd point in the last 2 games.  Midway through the period, the Penguins lost Gary Roberts to the broken leg.  Shots were again tied at 8 per side at the end of the 2nd, with both teams going 0 for 1 on the power play. 

In the 3rd, the score remained 1-0 until the last 22 seconds when Evgeni Malkin put the insurance goal into the open net.  Sidney Crosby unselfishly passed the puck to a wide-open Malkin who skated the puck most of the way to the net before tapping it in.  Colby Armstrong picked up the other assist, giving him 7-points (2G, 5A) in his last 5-games.  Sidney Crosby’s assist gave him 2-points on the night to increase his season total to 52-points.  Shots were 10-9 in favor of Buffalo in the third.  The Penguins were 0-for-3 on the powerplay in the 3rd and successfully killed off 2 penalties, albeit the 2nd one coming with less than 10-seconds to go in the game. 

The win extends Pittsburgh’s record to 12-5-0 in their last 17-games since beating Ottawa on Thanksgiving Day in the game that has turned their season around.  The Penguins travel to Buffalo for the much anticipated outdoor Winter Classic game to be played at 1PM on New Year’s Day.  The game will be carried live on NBC and CBC.  Current weather forecast is for snow showers with the day’s temperatures ranging from 24-32 degrees.   

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