An empty netter for Matt Cooke
! He shot the puck from near the blue line and the puck sailed easily into the open net. Penguins 5, Sabres 2
Ryan Miller is out of the net to give the Sabres an extra skater.
Roy tried to crash the net and jam the puck past Fleury, but the Flower held strong.
Congratulations to Dustin Jeffrey
. That assist marked his first career two-point game.
This fourth line is playing incredibly! Jeffrey centered the puck from the left corner, where Rupp buried it past Miller. Penguins 4, Sabres 2
Asham and Talbot just had a two-on-one chance, but Miller stopped Talbot's shot from down low. Talbot couldn't quite grab the rebound for the second chance.
Goligoski's wrist shot is gloved to the ice by someone in front of the Sabres net.
Montador got another nice chance for the Sabres, but Fleury made the kick-save to clear the puck into the corner.
And the Sabres get it right back. Pominville blasted a shot from the top of the left circle. The rebound came right back to him, and he elevated the puck over a sprawling Fleury. Penguins 3, Sabres 2
SID'S POINT STREAK IS STILL SURGING! Crosby sends a cross-ice pass to a dipping Goligoski, whose shot from what seems like an impossible angle finds the back of the net! Penguins 3, Sabres 1
Scratch that - Gerbe also got two for slashing! We're going to 4-on-4 hockey!8:57:
Special teams play has been dominating this game, as Letang is heading to the box for slashing. The Pens are on the PK.
Vanek is out of the box and both teams are back to full strength.
The Pens are heading to the PP after Vanek's stick catches Michalek in the face. He'll get a pair for hi-sticking.
The Sabres' Mike Weber is getting the Instigator of the Night award. He just tried mixing it up with Mike Rupp, but both players decide not to fight.
Miller nearly bobbles a Chris Conner shot, but recovers and makes the save. This comes immediately after Michalek makes a phenomenal sliding block to deny a 3-on-2 chance by the Sabres.17:36:
The Pens have successfully killed off the Sabres' power play.
Pominville lays a hit on Talbot as the Pens forward is in mid-fall that leaves him laying on the ice. Talbot is able to get up on his own accord and skate to the bench, and he appears to be okay. Looks like he just got the wind knocked out of him a bit.19:35:
As Orpik goes across the ice to lay a hit on Weber, he'll get whistled for interference. Pens on the PK.
Tyler Myers comes this close to laying out Crosby at center ice, but luckily the hulking Sabres blueliner barely gets a piece of No. 87.
The final frame has started in what has become quite a chippy game.
THIRD PERIODSECOND PERIOD NOTES
- Talbot is 9-for-11 for an 82-percent success rate in the faceoff dot.
- Crosby has played 13 shifts so far tonight for 13:58 of ice time, good for second on the team behind Paul Martin
- Fleury made 12 stops during the period.
What a roller-coaster ride this game has been so far. The Pens have held onto their 2-1 lead, while the Sabres hold a 26-13 edge in shots.
Leopold's shot slides through the crease and into the corner. Lots of pressure by the Sabres these last few minutes, but Fleury's standing tall.3:17:
Crosby's skating between Mike Rupp and Craig Adams
this shift. He's seeing a lot of ice time so far this period.5:55:
Both teams are back to full strength as Fleury stops a Mike Grier slapshot. 7:43:
The Pens are on the PP!
Both teams are playing some pretty emotional, fired-up hockey. Mike Weber goes to finish a check on Crosby and takes a few extra liberties with the captain as the two start tussling. They're both heading to the box, but Weber's going to get four minutes while Crosby gets two.8:47:
Crosby finds some open space to wheel toward Miller, but the Sabres netminder aggressively challenges the Pens captain and smothers the puck.
Letestu re-directs a pretty Crosby pass for what looks like a slam-dunk goal, but somehow Miller makes the save to deny No. 10!
Steve Montador slashed Crosby on the play, and he'll get two minutes in the box. Pens on the PP!
SO CLOSE! A Pens player made a great diving play to push the puck past a Sabres blueliner to Crosby, who had snuck behind Buffalo's defense to get a breakaway! He dekes Miller but his backhand shot sails high over the net!
Kennedy's out of the box and the Pens have escaped that PK unscathed.
No penalties are being assessed to skaters - Flower's going to get the call.
As Fleury tries to clear Roy out of his crease, he's going to get called for hi-sticking. Kennedy is serving the penalty for the Pens netminder. We're back to the PK.
After the play, Chris Butler starts mixing it up with the Pens top D pairing of Orpik and Letang. Looks like there's going to be some penalties called, we'll keep you posted on who's heading to the box.
A quick transition by the Sabres has Ennis speeding down the ice for a near breakaway, but Fleury makes the save.
Another huge series of saves by the Pens netminder! The Sabres are throwing puck after puck at Fleury and are doing their best to put lots of bodies in front of the net, but they haven't been able to rattle Flower.
Fleury just corrals a bouncing puck with his shoulder to rob Thomas Vanek! He made a shrugging motion to catch the rubber.20:00:
And we're off and running for the middle frame!
SECOND PERIODFIRST PERIOD NOTES
- As a team, the Pens have won 16-of-23 faceoffs for a 70-percent success rate.
- Jeffrey is tied for the team lead with two shots, scoring on one.
- Michalek paces the team with 8:18 of ice time.0:00:
And that'll do it for an extremely eventful first period. The Pens take a 2-1 lead into the second period, while Buffalo holds the edge in shots, 14-8.
Dupuis nearly got a breakaway immediately after his penalty expired! But the Sabres are able to catch up to him and contain him. Nice display of speed and anticipation by No. 9 as we're back to full strength.
I think we've finally got the penalties sorted out - Orpik and Gaustad both got minors for roughing, while Pominville and Cooke each got five for fighting. All of the penalties negated each other.
Buffalo is still on the power play, as Ennis' tally released just Adams from the box. Dupuis still has to serve his time.
And two fights just erupted after the Sabres scored - Matt Cooke
and Jason Pominville start going at it, while Brooks Orpik
and Paul Gaustad go at it a little ways away.
Tyler Ennis walks in from the point on Fleury and takes a shot, which bounces off Flower's pad right back to him. He snipes it top-shelf for the goal. Penguins 2, Sabres 14:37:
One of our other best penalty killers is now in the box as well. Pascal Dupuis
is getting two for tripping, and we're playing 5-on-3 hockey for 1:22.
Adams lays a bone-crushing hit on Thomas Vanek, which starts some pushing and shoving after the whistle. It looks like Adam is going to get sent to the sin bin for tripping on the play, so the Pens head right back to the PK.
And that'll do it for the penalty kill. The Pens are back to full strength.
8:15: Matt Cooke
throws his body in front of a Tyler Myers scorcher.
Lovejoy is heading to the box for hooking. Pens on the PK.
Talbot picks the pocket of Derek Roy in the corner and delivers the puck to a waiting Asham, who absolutely blasts the rubber past Miller! Penguins 2, Sabres 0
The play went under review because it looked like Jeffrey may have kicked the puck in, but the goal is ruled good!
Unbelievable! Dustin Jeffrey
gets his second-ever NHL goal in his first game this season to open the scoring! Lovejoy pinches down low to keep the puck in and sends a pass out front to Jeffrey, who sends it over Miller's shoulder for the score! Penguins 1, Sabres 0
And Conner and Letestu head right back down the ice on a 2-on-1, with No. 18 making an eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head play to drop a pass to a trailing Kennedy. TK hits the crossbar!
HUGE save by Flower! Mike Grier, who's parked in front of the net, goes to re-direct a puck into an open net that it looks like Fleury won't be able to get to, but his pad snakes out and gets a piece of it!
Despite being on the penalty kill to start the game, the Sabres have been sustaining some heavy pressure so far this period.16:56:
Rookie Tyler Ennis sends a shot toward Fleury, who manages to get his pad on the puck.
Montador rips a shot from the point, and although Fleury is screened by Patrick Kaleta he makes the save. Both teams are back to full strength.
Kunitz nearly re-directs a Paul Martin
blast from the point, but it skitters into the corner!19:48:
Just 12 seconds into the game and the Pens are already on the power play as Andrej Sekera goes for tripping.
And they're off!
There's been some changes to the Pens lineup for tonight. Jeffrey is centering the fourth line and Lovejoy is in on defense.
Fleury will look to equal his career-best unbeaten stretch between the pipes tonight.
With the Winter Classic fast approaching, I've got to mention another colossally epic outdoor hockey game that took place today - the Big Chill at the Big House!
Michigan topped my alma mater Michigan State, 5-0, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor earlier this afternoon. A total of 113,411 fans braved the elements to watch the game, setting the new world record for the most-attended hockey game ever.
...New Year's Day cannot come fast enough.6:50 PM:
Before the puck drops, check out Sam Kasan's game-day report from HSBC Arena
. He was chock-full of updates, with the big news being that Evgeni Malkin
is still out and recently recalled Dustin Jeffrey
is now in. 6:45 PM:
I'm currently poised to blog tonight's game with our fantastic intern Tony Jovenitti at CONSOL Energy Center. Special thanks to Jen Bullano and Jason Seidling for letting us use their office to bring you all the action!