The Pittsburgh Penguins are prepared to move on in the aftermath of having their 15-game winning streak come to end on Tuesday in a loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Penguins, playing without their injured captain and NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby for the first time this season, dropped a 4-1 decision to the Sabres at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
"The effort was not where we wanted to be, not where we can have it," said Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who relieved Tomas Vokoun after the Sabres' fourth goal. "We have been playing some great hockey, and [Tuesday] didn't seem like our best effort."
The loss to Buffalo was Pittsburgh's first setback since Feb. 28 and marked the first time in 12 games that the Penguins yielded more than two goals. Buffalo's triumph also snapped Pittsburgh's back-to-back-to-back shutouts against the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens.
The Penguins share the NHL's second-longest streak at 15 games with the 1981-82 New York Islanders. Pittsburgh fell two wins short of matching the League record it set in 1993 with a 17-game streak.
Longest winning streaks, one season
- 17 - Penguins, Mar. 9 - Apr. 10, 1993
- 15 - Penguins, Mar. 2 - Apr. 2, 2013
- 15 - Islanders, Jan. 21 - Feb. 20, 1982
- 14 - Capitals, Jan. 13 - Feb. 7, 2010
- 14 - Bruins, Dec. 3 - Jan. 9, 1930
So the Penguins visit Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers on Wednesday with their sights set on beginning a new winning streak with 11 games remaining in the regular season.
During their incredible run, the Penguins set a franchise record for victories in a calendar month by winning 15 games in March, becoming the first team in NHL history to post a perfect record in a calendar month of at least 10 games.
The Penguins won seven of the games by one goal in regulation, two in overtime and one via the shootout. Additionally, the club rallied from behind to win nine times.
Prior to Tuesday's loss, the Penguins had outscored the opposition, 52-26, during the streak. Crosby had six goals and 25 points, and linemate Chris Kunitz had 11 goals and 19 points.
Here is a game-by-game account of the Penguins' 15-game streak, leading off with how it ended:
Tuesday, April 2: BUF 4, PIT 1
Jarome Iginla scored his first goal as a Penguin in his second game with the team following his trade from the Calgary Flames, but it wasn't enough. Kevin Porter scored his first two goals of the season and Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson also connected for Buffalo, which won for the first time in five games. The loss snapped Pittsburgh's team-record 12-game home winning streak.
Saturday, March 30: PIT 2, NYI 0
Although the Penguins welcomed Jarome Iginla to their lineup against the Islanders, they played much of the game shorthanded after Crosby left with an upper-body injury and Kunitz received a game misconduct after checking Josh Bailey from behind. Despite that adversity, Matt Cooke opened the scoring in the third period, finding a loose puck beside the net before beating Evgeni Nabokov. Neal doubled the Pittsburgh lead five minutes later, and Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves for the shutout.
Thursday, March 28: PIT 4, WIN 0
Pascal Dupuis scored two goals, Chris Kunitz connected for his 20th of the season, and captain Sidney Crosby chipped in with two assists, increasing his League-leading point total to 56. Evgeni Malkin scored his sixth goal of the season in his return to the lineup. Goalie Tomas Vokoun earned his 50th career shutout on 20 saves while the Penguins outshot the Jets, 43-20.
Tuesday, March 26: PIT 1, MTL 0
According to Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time in the career of Sidney Crosby that he scored the only goal in a 1-0 game, regular season or overtime. Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves over the first two periods but did not play in the third because of an undisclosed injury. Tomas Vokoun made 12 saves in relief to complete the shutout. Crosby's goal, his 15th of the season, came with 6:41 left in the second period.
Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Crosby's coach in Pittsburgh from 2005 through early 2009, told the media afterward, "We got beat tonight by the best player in the world by the perfect shot."
Sunday, March 24: PIT 2, PHI 1 (OT)
Tyler Kennedy scored 2:33 into the extra period after Sidney Crosby tied the game with a 5-on-3 goal 13:46 into the third. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed one goal or fewer in four straight games, finished with 27 saves. Fleury, who allowed a power-play goal to Claude Giroux in the second, has won his past seven starts. Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was on his way to his second shutout of the season before Crosby's power-play goal with 6:14 left pulled the Penguins even.
Friday, March 22: PIT 4, NYI 2
The Penguins overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 and killed off a pair of third-period power plays by the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Tomas Vokoun stopped 33 shots and Brandon Sutter snapped a 2-2 tie 1:46 into the third. Vokoun was the difference early; he allowed one goal in the first when the Penguins were outshot 14-3 and spent most of the opening 20 minutes in their end. Sidney Crosby chipped in with two assists.
Tuesday, March 19: PIT 2, WSH 1
The victory enabled the Penguins to become the first team in NHL history to win 10 or more straight games in three successive seasons. Defenseman Matt Niskanen was the hero, snapping a 1-1 tie 11:58 into the third at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins also received a goal from another defenseman, Paul Martin, 11:07 into the second to pull into a tie. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves and Sidney Crosby added two assists.
Sunday, March 17: PIT 2, BOS 1
Joe Vitale's first goal of the season was the game-winner with 32 seconds left in the first period at Consol Energy Center. Sidney Crosby also scored and Tomas Vokoun made 31 saves for the Penguins, who lost defenseman Kris Letang to a lower-body injury in the first. It was the fifth straight victory by the Penguins over the Boston Bruins and moved the club into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Saturday, March 16: PIT 3, NYR 0
Marc Andre-Fleury established a franchise record with his 23rd career shutout on 23 saves at Consol Energy Center. The shutout against the New York Rangers was the second in three meetings between the teams this season. Rookie Beau Bennett scored 90 seconds into the game and Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis also had goals for the Penguins. Fleury broke Tom Barrasso's mark of most career shutouts by a Pittsburgh goalie.
Thursday, March 14: PIT 3, TOR 1
Pascal Dupuis scored two late goals and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves at Air Canada Centre. The Penguins were forced to score three goals in the third period in rallying to victory. Sidney Crosby had two assists, and Craig Adams connected for the team's first shorthanded goal of the season on an empty-netter with 10 seconds remaining.
Tuesday, March 12: PIT 3, BOS 2
This victory could arguably be labeled as the most thrilling of the streak. Brandon Sutter scored the tying and winning goals 3:24 apart during a three-goal outburst over the final seven minutes to stun the Boston Bruins at Consol Energy Center. Marc-Andre Fleury needed to make 14 saves.
Sunday, March 10: PIT 6, NYI 1
The Penguins limited the New York Islanders to 10 shots on goal through the first two periods while jumping out to a 5-1 lead at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins finished with a combined 67 percent efficiency on faceoffs, dominating puck possession much of the night. Chris Kunitz scored three goals, Pascal Dupuis scored twice, and James Neal once. Sidney Crosby had five assists and Tomas Vokoun made 23 saves.
Saturday, March 9: PIT 5, TOR 4 (SO)
James Neal and Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout, and Marc-Andre Fleury (22 saves) stopped Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri in the tiebreaker to notch the team's fifth straight victory at Air Canada Centre. Neal, Crosby, Paul Martin and Pascal Dupuis scored in regulation for the Penguins, who fired a season-high 41 shots on goal.
Thursday, March 7: PIT 5, PHI 4
The Penguins overcame a 4-1 deficit to shock the capacity crowd at Wells Fargo Center. Chris Kunitz's second goal of the game snapped a 4-4 tie 18 seconds into the third period. Sidney Crosby had three assists, Pascal Dupuis had a goal and one assist, and James Neal and Tyler Kennedy had goals in the triumph. Tomas Vokoun, who relieved Marc-Andre Fleury in goal for the final two periods, stopped all 14 shots in his direction. Fleury allowed four goals on 18 Philadelphia shots in the opening period.
Monday, March 4: PIT 4, TBL 3
The Penguins recorded their first third-period comeback of the year when Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and James Neal scored to give the Penguins a 4-2 advantage at Consol Energy Center. Neal's goal, the eventual game-winner, was into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining in the third. Sidney Crosby had a goal and one assist, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves.
Saturday, March 2: PIT 7, MTL 6 (OT)
The start of the longest win streak in the NHL this season featured five ties and three lead changes at Bell Centre. Brandon Sutter's goal 52 seconds into overtime past Carey Price snapped a 6-6 tie. Sutter, Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz all scored twice for Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists, and Kris Letang dished four assists in a game in which 12 of the 13 goals were scored at even strength.