With Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby extending his scoring streak to 10 games with an assist on Pascal Dupuis’ goal in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, it’s easy to get caught up in the offensive firepower the Penguins have.
But it’s the defensive effort from every player on the ice that earned them the win.
While they may not have gotten on the scoresheet, Pittsburgh’s blueliners played tremendously without the puck in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to help preserve his shutout. To stop a team like Buffalo, who likes to involve all five skaters in their attack, the Penguins defense had to stand tall.
It’s plays like Deryk Engelland recovering after a turnover and Zbynek Michalek blocking shot after shot from his knees that spurred Pittsburgh to the win. In addition, players like Paul Martin and Kris Letang not only played solid in their own end, but they also joined the rush on numerous occasions. Letang fired six shots on goal (tied for the team lead with Evgeni Malkin and Dupuis), while Martin made himself available as a passing option as much as possible.
The Penguins penalty kill, which has now killed off 36 straight opposition power plays on the road, came up huge once again as Pittsburgh stymied two Buffalo man-advantage opportunities at the start of the third period. After a scoreless second period, those kills gave the Penguins a boost to hold onto their lead.
While Marc-Andre Fleury has been playing well as of late, on Wednesday he was absolutely unstoppable, making 30 saves to earn a whitewash of the Sabres. The shutout is his first of the season and the 17th of his career, with his last one coming on March 18, 2010.
After the Penguins jumped to a 1-0 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first, the Penguins netminder came up with huge saves through a relentless Buffalo attack. He made numerous stops through traffic, and to top it all off, Fleury even made two long breakout passes on back-to-back shifts in the second period to keep the game flowing and to jumpstart the Penguins offense. Fleury is now 7-3-2 all-time against the Sabres.
The Sabres kept Fleury on his toes from the get-go, getting good scoring chances in the opening minutes, including one where the Penguins netminder had to make a save on Colin Stuart while on his back. While the Penguins sustained plenty of pressure on the Sabres in the first period, the game appeared to be wide open. As soon as Pittsburgh finished one solid shift in Buffalo’s offensive zone, the momentum would swing right back—that is, until Crosby capitalized on a turnover by Luke Adam. The Penguins captain passed to linemate Pascal Dupuis from behind the net, who scored to earn his sixth goal of the season. That’s all the Pens needed to earn the victory, as their solid defense and Fleury’s goaltending preserved the lead.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves and Pascal Dupuis scored in the first period to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Fleury recorded his 17th NHL shutout and first of the season. Five have been 1-0 victories.
Dupuis scored with 4:56 left in the period. Sidney Crosby stole the puck from Luke Adam in the right corner and fed Dupuis, who one-timed a shot past goalie Jhonas Enroth.
Pittsburgh has won four straight and has earned at least one point in seven consecutive contests.
• With Wednesday’s victory, the Penguins now hold an 12-4-1 record against the Sabres since the 2006-07 season. Their away record improves to 8-3-1 and gives them 17 points on the road, the most in the NHL.
• Marc-Andre Fleury’s win on Wednesday improves his unbeaten streak to 6-0-1, the fifth-longest unbeaten stretch of his career.
• Sidney Crosby extended his scoring streak to 10 games with an assist on Dupuis’ game-winning goal. It’s tied for the third-longest streak in his career. The Penguins captain has now totaled 36 points (15G-21A) through 23 games played.
• With Wednesday’s win, the team has swept the ‘Dad’s Trip’ for the second season in a row and the third time in five years after earning a 3-2 win over Florida on Monday night. Looks like the moms will have to wait their turn, as the Penguins record with their dads in tow improves to 7-3.