The Penguins are used to facing adversity these days.
So when they found themselves in the second period trailing 2-0 and losing star Evgeni Malkin to an injury (he had just returned from missing the previous five games), Pittsburgh shrugged it off and mounted a come-from-behind victory with three goals in the second period to best the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins pulled together when Malkin went down, and played textbook 'Dan Bylsma'; hockey – getting the puck in the offensive zone, establishing a forecheck and dominating time of possession.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in the third period for the Penguins, particularly in the first five minutes and the final minutes of the frame as Buffalo came at the net furious and often.
The Penguins have won five straight games, and eight of their last nine. Pittsburgh improves to 34-15-4 for 72 points, one behind Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference standings.
Matt Cooke did it all against the Sabres.
The Penguins forward scored what proved to be the game-winning tally in the second period and was a physical presence on the ice.
Cooke took a pass from Jordan Staal atop the crease. He turned the puck over to his backhand and lifted a shot past goalie Ryan Miller 7:04 into the middle frame.
Cooke also had a game-high seven hits – despite having to sit out 10 minutes with a misconduct penalty. Cooke was given the misconduct penalty at the midpoint of the second period for coming to the aid of his teammate Tyler Kennedy. After Kennedy was pulled down by Jordan Leopold behind the Sabres net, Cooke rushed to his teammate's defense by hitting Leopold. Then Cooke and Steve Montador traded blows, even as they fell to the ice.
The Penguins played a strong first period, but found themselves trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The second period, however, was totally dominated by the Penguins. Pittsburgh scored three goals to flip a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead, while outshooting, 17-6, and outhitting, 22-12, the Sabres.
The team effort helped the Penguins mount a comeback and pull out the victory.
(AP) - Dustin Jeffrey scored the first of three Pittsburgh goals in a second-period span of 3:14 and the Penguins rallied for a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night despite again losing star center Evgeni Malkin to injury.
Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke also scored for Pittsburgh, which has won five consecutive and eight of nine.
Malkin returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games due to a left knee injury and a sinus infection, but he was knocked out of the game during the first shift of the second period with a lower-body injury after a collision with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers.
- Evgeni Malkin made his return to the lineup against the Sabres only to be knocked out again. Malkin was injured in the early seconds of the second period after Tyler Myers checked him in the corner of the Buffalo zone. Malkin suffered a lower-body injury and did not return.
- The Penguins asked their fans to bring Terrible Towels to the game to show their support for the Steelers – who play in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers this Sunday. The yellow towels were in full effect and the fans waved them vigorously after each Penguins' goal and at the final horn. The Penguins also played the Steelers' video featuring the song 'Renegade'; by Styx on the jumbotron.
- Matt Cooke scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the second period, but the play was really made by Jordan Staal. The Penguins alternate captain forced the play wide with his forecheck and stole the puck (literally with a stick lift) from Buffalo's Nathan Gerbe. Staal then made a perfect pass to Cooke at the crease. Cooke went to his backhand and lifted a shot into the net.
- The Penguins did not start the game the way they had hoped to. The Sabres ended Pittsburgh's home shutout streak (121 minutes, 15 seconds) with a goal 17 seconds after the opening faceoff. Buffalo added to its lead with another tally at the seven-minute mark and held a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period.
#1. Matt Cooke
Left Wing - 24
Game-high 7 hits
#2. Tyler Kennedy
Right Wing - 48
#3. Paul Gaustad
Center - 28
1 goal, 1 assist
plus-2, 3 shots
14-9 on faceoffs
Author: Sam Kasan