BUFFALO, N.Y. – Monday was an historic night at HSBC Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins had all three of their first-overall draft picks on the ice at the same time in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sabres.
It was the first time the franchise’s only three first-overall selections – Mario Lemieux (1984), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003) and Sidney Crosby (2005) – skated together in a regular-season game. A national television audience got a chance to witness it as OLN carried the game as its featured telecast.
The last time three NHL first-overall draft picks played in the same game for the team which originally drafted them happened in the 1980-81 season when three of the Montreal Canadiens’ first-overall picks – Rejean Houle (1969), Guy Lafleur (1971) and Doug Wickenheiser (1980) – played in the same game.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Toronto Maple Leafs had three first-overall picks – Wendel Clark (1985), Mats Sundin (1989) and Bryan Berard (1995) – on the ice on March 7, 2000. However, Toronto did not draft Berard. The Ottawa Senators originally picked him first overall. Likewise, Sundin was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques.
Nevertheless, Crosby recorded a point Monday night. He assisted on Mark Recchi’s second period goal. Crosby now has at least one point in all four NHL games he’s played.
Rory Fitzpatrick gave the Sabres (3-1-0) a 1-0 lead 3:21 into the game when he poked the puck past Fleury.
Ziggy Palffy tied the contest for the Penguins (0-1-3) 3:24 later. He slammed in a rebound off a Sergei Gonchar slapshot from the point that hit goaltender Ryan Miller’s leg pad. Recchi earned the other Pittsburgh assist.
Buffalo’s Paul Gaustead slid home a rebound to the hosts a 2-1 advantage 10:26 into the second period.
Recchi tied the game at 2-2 with 3:03 remaining in the period. Crosby’s shot deflected off Miller to Recchi, who wristed the puck past the Buffalo goaltender from a nearly impossible angle. Palffy had the other Pittsburgh assist.
The game stayed tied at 2-all at the end of regulation. Buffalo’s Jochen Hecht scored the game-winner with 20.4 seconds to go in the overtime period. Hecht slammed in his own rebound.
The Penguins return to Pittsburgh before heading to Philadelphia on Friday.