|The Penguins looked like the better team early in the game. They quickly found their legs and rhythm following the 15-day Olympic break, and established their game in the first and second period against Buffalo. |
Their hard work earned them a power-play opportunity late in the first period. The Penguins converted with a goal and never looked back. The team was able to build a strong lead, and even though Buffalo chipped away, Pittsburgh held on for the victory.
The win gives the Penguins possession of first place in the Atlantic Division (though it may only be temporary). Pittsburgh opened their post-Olympic break stretch with a big victory against a tough opponent.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ruslan Fedotenko had a goal and an assist and Sidney Crosby - in his first game since winning the Olympics for Canada - set up Sergei Gonchar's 200th career goal to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Tuesday night. |
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Sergei Gonchar celebrates after scoring his 200th career NHL goal
(photo by Getty)
|What Went Well: Point Men |
The Sabres defensive box was collapsing around their net to protect against the home front. The Penguins took advantage of the perimeter space allowed by Buffalo by utilizing their defensemen. With good puck movement from the points, Pittsburgh was able to record extended periods of possession time in the offensive zone.
What Could Have Gone Better: Discipline
The Penguins took four penalties in the game, including two in the third period when the team was clinging to one-goal leads. Luckily, a superb effort by the team’s penalty killers helped the team escape unscathed.
|Ruslan Fedotenko broke out in a big way for Pittsburgh. The winger ended a 17-game goal-less drought with the game-winning tally in the third period. He also made a beautiful pass to set up Pascal Dupuis’ second-period goal. |
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|The Penguins get on the board first with five minutes left in the first period on a power-play tally. Pittsburgh worked the puck to the midpoint where Sergei Gonchar ripped a slap shot into the low far side of the net for his 200th career goal. Pittsburgh 1, Buffalo 0. |
The Penguins added to their lead thanks to a beautiful pass by Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period. Pascal Dupuis had the puck in the near corner and shot the puck around the boards. Dupuis then sneakily skated to the net behind three Sabres. Fedotenko picked up the pass in the far corner and made a bullet pass through the crease to Dupuis at the side of the net. Dupuis re-directed the puck over the goal line. Pittsburgh 2, Buffalo 0.
The Sabres cut into Pittsburgh lead seven minutes into the second frame. Patrick Kaleta had the puck above the far circle and dropped it to Toni Lydman. The defenseman blasted a slap shot into net with two Sabres screening Brent Johnson. Pittsburgh 2, Buffalo 1.
Fedotenko added an insurance goal halfway through the third period off of some great passing by the Penguins. The team made some tic-tac-toe passes and Tyler Kennedy found Fedotenko in the far circle. The Ukraine native snapped a shot into the goal. Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 1.
Buffalo cut into the lead with a goal with only five minutes remaining in the third period. Derek Roy found a loose puck in front of the net and lifted a backhand shot into the upper netting under the crossbar. Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 2.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|The game marked the debut of Penguins defenseman Jordan Leopold, who was acquired by Pittsburgh the previous day for a 2010 second-round draft pick. Leopold looked solid in his first outing. He was positionally sound, showed great skating ability and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. |
Forward Maxime Talbot returned to the lineup for the Penguins. He had missed 10 of the team’s last 11 games with a groin injury.
The Sabres’ and Penguins’ Olympic participants were honored prior to the game. The Mellon Arena crowd roared for Team USA silver medal winners Ryan Miller and Brooks Orpik. They also cheered for gold medalists Canadians Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury, but followed that with a chant of “USA! USA!”
|GAME NOTES |
|> Pittsburgh improved to 37-22-4 on the season with a 19-10-3 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are one point ahead of New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead, though the Devils play later tonight. |
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Gonchar PP (9), 14:58 1st period: Penguins 1, Sabres 0
PIT, P.Dupuis (14), 3:13 2nd period: Penguins 2, Sabres 0
BUF, T.Lydman (2), 6:44 2nd period: Penguins 2, Sabres 1
PIT, R.Fedotenko (9), 11:03 3rd period: Penguins 3, Sabres 1
BUF, D.Roy (17), 14:21 3rd period: Penguins 3, Sabres 2
> The Penguins are now 55-25-8 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 29-11-4 at Mellon Arena. The Penguins are now 38-8-5 all-time when scoring first and 34-3-2 when leading after two periods under Bylsma.
> Pittsburgh has successfully killed 54 of its last 62 shorthanded situations (87.1 percent).
> Either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby have figured in on 35 of the last 39 goals for Pittsburgh.
> Sidney Crosby posted an assist. He now has 17 goals and 29 points in his last 19 games. Crosby has points in 10 of his last 12 contests for a total of 20 points (11G-9A).
> Evgeni Malkin extended his season-long scoring streak to 14 games with an assist. He now has 23 points (8G-15A) over that span.
> Ruslan Fedotenko scored his first goal in 18 games and added an assist for a two-point night.
> Sergei Gonchar recorded his 200th career goal with a power-play tally.
> The Penguins recorded their 150th consecutive sell out. The streak started in the 2006-07 season and includes the postseason.
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. R.Fedotenko |
|“In the second period, I felt better. I think I played better in the last few periods, and we got a big two points.” |
- Jordan Leopold