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Aftermath: Sabres 4, Penguins 3

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Buffalo Sabres turned the tables on the Penguins by pulling off their own comeback victory after trailing 3-2 after two periods. Pittsburgh has been dubbed the comeback kids this season with a league-leading 10 come-from-behind wins. On Nov. 15, the Penguins erased a 2-1 deficit against the Sabres with four goals in the third period to get a 5-2 win. This time the Sabres scored an early third-period goal to tie the game and then controlled the entire period. Eventually, Buffalo notched the game-winner with less than five minutes left in the game and completely shutdown any attempt by the Penguins to mount an 11th comeback.
The Buffalo Sabres scored two goals in the third period to pull off a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at HSBC Arena on Friday night. Drew Stafford and Paul Gaustad each scored two goals for the Sabres, including Gaustad’s game-winner at 16:36 of the third period.

Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the game to give him 10 on the season. Tyler Kennedy added his sixth of the season and Pittsburgh had a 3-2 lead entering the third period. However, Stafford and Gaustad both scored their second goals in the final frame.

Rookie goaltender John Curry made his first career start, stopping 28 shots in the loss.

Jordan Staal fights for a loose puck (photo by Getty)
What Worked: John Curry
The rookie made his first-career start and can’t be blamed for this loss. He made a number of key saves late in the game to keep it a tie game. Curry made two spectacular glove saves down the stretch. He played deep in his crease and had quick reactions to shots. Curry played poised and never looked rattled.

What Didn't Work: Territory Protection
The Sabres caused a lot of havoc in front of Curry. The Buffalo game plan was to create traffic in front of Curry and get rebound opportunities. The Sabres’ first two goals were a result of Buffalo players who were positioned at the doorstep. The Sabres notched the game-winning goal late in the third period when Paul Gaustad was unchecked in the crease. The Penguins had trouble clearing Sabres out of the slot and crease and paid for it with a few pucks in their net.
Sidney Crosby came up with two big goals in the game. His first score was a great play with some hand-eye coordination. Evgeni Malkin took a shot that ricocheted off the backboards and came back to the front of the net. Crosby’s initial attempt popped up into the air. Crosby then baseball-style nailed a home-run shot for the goal. On his second goal, he picked up a loose puck and raced into the Sabres zone. He faked a slap shot to get Buffalo’s Ryan Miller to commit. Crosby then sent a quick snap shot between Miller’s pads for the Pittsburgh lead. He now is tied for the team-lead with 10 goals on the season and his 30 points are the second most in the NHL.
Janne Pesonen, who was recalled from the AHL on Thursday, was in the lineup for the Penguins. He finished six-plus minutes of ice time. Maxime Talbot, who left Wednesday’s game against the New York Islanders after a shot hit his left foot, also played in the game. He was listed as day-to-day but was healthy enough to go. Ruslan Fedotenko was a healthy scratch in the game.

Philippe Boucher logged 4:27 minutes of ice time before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. Pittsburgh juggled its pairings around to accommodate his loss.

Tyler Kennedy scored the game’s opening goal after the Penguins did a nice job of cycling the puck down low. Matt Cooke beat Sabres defenseman Craig Rivet to a dumped puck. He cycled to Kennedy, who dropped the puck back to Cooke. Cooke skated around the net. Jordan Staal stationed himself high in the crease, drawing the attention of the Sabres defense. Kennedy sneaked to Ryan Miller’s right. Cooke sent a centering pass right to Kennedy’s stick. Kennedy one-timed the shot into the net for a 1-0 Penguins lead.

John Curry, making his first-career start, surrendered his first-career goal 56 seconds after Pittsburgh scored the opening goal. Maxim Afinogenov put on a skating show in the Pittsburgh zone as he maneuvered around and through several Penguins. He eventual sent a wrap-around shot on net that caromed into the slot. Drew Stafford was there to slam in the puck to tie the game, 1-1.

The Buffalo goal energized the team. They spent over a minute in the Penguins zone, winning loose-puck battles, skating around and even changing lines while maintaining possession. The Penguins squad ran out of gas and were laboring to clear the puck. Although, the great sequence for Buffalo was ruined when Jason Pominville was caught hooking Aelx Goligoski.

Zigomanis made a great pass through the neutral zone to send Pascal Dupuis for a breakaway. Zigomanis’ pass went between two Sabres and onto the tape of Dupuis’ stick. He sent in a shot that was turned aside by Miller, but he did draw a penalty on the play.

Derek Roy had a great shorthanded opportunity. He skated into the Penguins zone with Malkin and Goligoski dropping back. Roy forced the issue by splitting the two and sliding the puck through Malkin. Curry made a great save when he got his left pad on the puck to deny Roy. But Malkin was called for a hooking penalty, negating the Pittsburgh power play.

Head coach Michel Therrien reunited the Sidney Crosby-Malkin-Petr Sykora line in the second period.

The Sabres took the lead with a power-play goal in the second period off of a muffed shot. Stafford skated from behind the net towards the crease. At the last second, he sent a centering feed to Paul Gaustad in the slot. Curry slid to his left in anticipation of the shot. However, Gaustad fanned on the initial shot. Curry was down to his left and Gaustad shot the puck into the vacated area for his first goal of the year.

Pittsburgh tied the game 34 seconds later. Malkin stopped a clearing attempt by Jaroslav Spacek. He then sent a shot onto the net that ricocheted off the boards and bounced out to the side of the net. Crosby’s initial shot popped up into the air. He then batted it into the net baseball style.

Kris Letang made back-to-back solid defensive plays on a power play. First, he negated a breakaway with his speed by beating a Sabre to the puck. Only seconds later, the Penguins had another turnover and Letang raced back to negate an odd-man rush.

Thomas Vanek had a rough shift on a late Sabres power play. A great breakout pass from the Buffalo zone gave Clarke MacArthur a two-on-one chance. His slap shot was stopped by Curry and Vanek had a shot at a wide-open net. Vanek hit the side of the net. Then he tripped up Letang to end the power play with a penalty.

Crosby made Vanek and the Sabres pay with his second goal of game on a the subsequent four-on-four. Malkin stood up Spacek in the neutral zone. The two tangled as the puck bounced free. Crosby picked it up and skated into the Buffalo zone. He faked a slap shot that drew Miller down into his butterfly posture. Crosby then sent a quick wrist shot through Miller’s pads for his 10th goal of the season.

The Sabres tied the game off of a quick transition in the neutral zone early in the third period. Stafford intercepted a pass and sent the puck to Roy. Buffalo had a three-on-two entering the zone. Roy dished to Vanek, who sent a pass across the crease. Stafford tipped the puck with his stick for his second goal of the game.

Curry made ridiculous-silly save on Vanek, one of the best goal scorers in the league. Vanek one-timed a shot on a pass from behind the net. Curry made a reflex reaction and got his left arm on the puck to keep it a 3-3 game with less than five minutes left in regulation.

Gaustad scored his second goal of the night – and second of the game – by knocking in a puck right in front of the net. Jason Pominville sent a centering pass right into the crease. Gaustad was all alone at the Penguins goal line. Curry made the first save on Gaustad but the rebound was knocked in at 16:35 of the third period.

A quick whistle cost the Penguins a chance to tie the game with under 20 seconds left in the game. A wrap-around attempted was stopped by Miller. The referee blew the play dead even though the puck slid out of the scrum to a spot where two Penguins had an open net to shoot at.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 13-6-3 on the year, with a 7-3-1 mark on the road. The Penguins are 8-2-1 in November. Pittsburgh had it’s streak of five-straight road wins snapped.

> Tyler Kennedy gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 10:29 of the first period. Buffalo tied the game on Drew Stafford’s score at 11:25, 56 seconds later. Paul Gaustad scored his first goal of the year on a power play to take a 2-1 lead. Pittsburgh took a 3-2 lead with two goals from Sidney Crosby in the second period (12:55 and 19:09). Buffalo tied the game, 3-3, on Stafford’s second goal of the game. Gaustad's second goal of the game proved to be the game-winner at 16:36.

> Pittsburgh was outshot by the Sabres by a 32-30 margin. Pittsburgh has only been outshot twice in its past 11 games.

> Malkin recorded two assists in the game against Buffalo. His two-point night adds to his NHL leading 37 points (10G-27A). Malkin’s 27 assists are also a league best. Malkin is on pace for a 100-assist season (101). Only three players in NHL history have registered 100 assists in a single season (Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzkey and Bobby Orr).

> Crosby registered a two-goal night to tie for the team lead with 10 goals on the year. Crosby quietly climbed the rankings and is now second (tied) in the league in scoring with 30 points (10G-20A). His 20 assists are the third most in the league.

> Rookie John Curry made his first-career start in goal. He made 28 saves, including some key ones late to keep the  Penguins in the game. Unfortunately, he also suffered his first loss.

> Kennedy scored his sixth goal of the season and first in eight games. He’s notched three points in his last four games (1G-2A) and five points in his last seven games (1G-4A). All six of Kennedy’s goals this season have occurred on the road.
1. Paul Gaustad, BUF
2. Drew Stafford, BUF
3. Sidney Crosby, PIT
"It's disappointing being my first start. I wanted to get a win."
- John Curry


Author: Sam Kasan

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