Time runs out and the Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, in their first game following the break. Ruslan Fedotenko leads the way with a goal and an assist and Sergei Gonchar tallies his 200th career goal. The Penguins temporarily move one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils for the Atlantic Division lead pending New Jersey's game later tonight.
Lalime is out of his net.
And after the final TV timeout of the third period replay confirms that Roy's backhander just before the break landed just under the water bottle as Buffalo gets within one. Penguins 3, Sabres 2.
Buffalo is coming on strong here following the Fedotenko goal as desparation begins to set in.
Right off the draw following an icing call the Penguins take a two-goal lead! It's Ruslan Fedotenko taking a pass in the high slot from Kennedy and firing a laser over the glove of Lalime. It's Fedotenko's ninth goal of the season. Penguins 3, Sabres 1.
Lalime goes into the splits to deny a drive from the high slot off the blade of Crosby as the Penguins break three-on-two into the Sabres zone.
The Penguins penalty kill looks like a top unit in killing off a third Buffalo man-advantage.
Big save by Johnson off the chest protector on a blast from Roy at the left point.
Fans at Mellon Arena don't agree with an interference call given to Gonchar as the Sabres broke into the Pittsburgh zone. The penalty kill has to come up huge again.
It's fitting following Rupp's unanimous decision over Gaustad that we present tonight's Shearer's Crunches of the Game:
Following a whistle Rupp drops the gloves with Gaustad and basically owns the fight. Gaustad heads right to the locker room with Buffalo's trainer running behind him.
Pittsburgh has killed off both of Buffalo's power-play attempts.
Lalime makes not one but two huge saves on Matt Cooke
, including the second one while he was laying prone on the ice, as the Penguins get the better of the chances on Buffalo's power play.
Fans are not happy as the referees call a two-minute penalty on Fedotenko as he drills Kaleta to the ice.
Buffalo showcases why they have the league's top penalty-killing unit with a near-perfect kill as the Penguins fall to 1-for-2 on the man-advantage.
Great hustle by Kunitz to steal the puck off the blade of Vanek in the neutral zone and use his wheels to force Vanek into taking a hooking penalty.
Pittsburgh looks to finish off a 2-0-2 homestand dating back to before the Olympic break.
SECOND PERIOD NOTES:
- Pittsburgh holds a 16-13 advantage on the faceoff dots.
- Chris Kunitz
, Maxime Talbot and Mike Rupp all have four hits to lead the way.
- Jordan Leopold has played 12:28 minutes and has one blocked shot and one takeaway.
The Penguins carry a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. Pittsburgh also holds a 21-15 advantage in shots.
Buffalo is 0-for-2 on the man-advantage as Pittsburgh kills the Orpik penalty.
Buffalo gets a late power play with Orpik in the penalty box for hooking.
Head coach Dan Bylsma has to be proud of the way his team is dominating the offensive zone. They just hemmed the Sabres in the offensive zone for 45 seconds.
Fans break out into a "Let's Go Pens!" chant as both teams continue to stifle the other in the neutral zone.
Let's take a moment once again to congratulate the Penguins' Olympic medalists - Brooks Orpik
(United States, silver), Sidney Crosby
(Canada, gold) and Marc-Andre Fleury
Today's Nemacolin Woodlands Top 5 were the top moments in Sidney Crosby
's career. Again, a mixed reaction for No. 2 - his goal for Canada on Sunday. Nothing but cheers, however, when he received the Cup at moment No. 1.
Malkin is possessed now after taking an elbow right in the face and watching no penalty be called on the play.
Enjoy highlights from the Penguins first three games this season against the Sabres, including a Sidney Crosby
hat trick on Feb. 1:
For a limited time, the Penguins have released exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from Game 7 and the Stanley Cup Parade available only to Twitter users! Click here
for more information.
Buffalo is right back in the hockey game as bronze-medalist Toni Lydman takes a drop pass from Patrick Kaleta and beats Brent Johnson
past the glove. Penguins 2, Sabres 1.
You would have to have been here to believe what Crosby just did!!! It didn't result in a goal but he just stickhandled from his knees for a solid five seconds. The Kid just continues to amaze!
Buffalo tries a tick-tack-play off their own but Jordan Staal
and Mark Eaton combined to block Derek Roy's shot away. The Penguins are playing great in all three zones thus far.
What a goal by the Penguins! Fedotenko takes a pass behind the net from Dupuis, skates around the far side of the cage and sets Dupuis up for an easy tap-in goal. Malkin gets the second assist on the play to increase his scoring streak to 14 games, one shy of his career high. Penguins 2, Sabres 0.
Letang skates back onto the ice and the Penguins kill off Buffalo's first power play.
The Penguins have 1:06 to kill on the Letang penalty.
FIRST PERIOD NOTES:
- The Penguins outhit the Sabres, 12-11.
- Sergei Gonchar led the Penguins with three blocked shots.
- Evgeni Malkin
had a team-high three blocked shots.
One period is in the books here at Mellon Arena and it's the Penguins who hold a 1-0 lead over the Sabres. Pittsburgh controlled the action for much of the frame and leads in shots, 14-9.
Buffalo has challenged Johnson a bit here the last three minutes of the period. Johnson just made a huge blocker save on a drive by Tomas Vanek in the slot.
Letang is sent to the penalty box for holding.
Jordan Leopold just looked good leading a rush up ice with Crosby. He showcased the offensive element he can bring to the table with his sound skating.
The Penguins are totally dominating the Sabres right now and that is great to see heading into the final 20 games of the season. Shots are now 12-4 in favor of Pittsburgh after Letang almost buried a shot over the shoulder of Lalime.
Pittsburgh makes Kennedy pay for the penalty. Sergei Gonchar takes a pass at the center point from Alex Goligoski and blasts career goal No. 200 of his career past Lalime to open the scoring. Sidney Crosby
receives the second assist. Gonchar gets a nice ovation from the crowd for the milestone tally. Penguins 1, Sabres 0.
Talbot just cannot buy a break. He is slammed from behind by Buffalo's Tim Kennedy but he does help the Penguins get their first power play of the night. Talbot looks to be OK.
Tonight marks the 150th-consecutive sellout at Mellon Arena. That is a tremendous achievement that requires a big THANK YOU from us at the Penguins to you as fans! What a ride it has been:
Crosby and Rivet are back on the ice as the coincidental roughing minors expire.
Malkin appears to be using his Russian team's disappointing result at the Olympics as motivation tonight. He just danced through the whole Buffalo team before Lalime made the save on his shot.
And we finally do get a whistle as Lalime corrals a point shot from Orpik. We have coincidental minors after the play assessed to Crosby and Buffalo captain Craig Rivet.
Will we have another stoppage before the end of the period?
OK, maybe that is not the case as Crosby joins Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko for a shift.
Head coach Dan Bylsma said he would be trying to give Crosby and Orpik a rest at different points in the game and we see that here with Maxime Talbot centering Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz
Big pad save by Johnson on Paul Gaustad's drive from the slot as the Penguin netminder sees his first tough shot of the evening.
16:22: Kris Letang
finds a loose puck in the slot and his snap shot just misses the far side as the Penguins have the better of the play thus far.
Leopold officially steps onto the ice for the first time as a Penguin.
Pittsburgh gets the first good scoring chance of the evening as Malkin springs Pascal Dupuis
down the left wing. Lalime stays against the post to make the save.
19:29: Brent Johnson
gets the call tonight in goal for the Penguins opposite Patrick Lalime for the Sabres as both teams give their Olympic netminders the night off.
And the NHL is back as the stretch run begins here tonight at Mellon Arena!!!
STAT OF THE NIGHT:
The Penguins surged into the Olympic break with a 5-2-3 record while the Sabres limped in with just one win over their final seven games.
The Penguins are honoring the Olympians from both teams right now. First up...Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, Andrej Sekera, Jochen Hecht and Henrik Tallinder. The crowd goes crazy for Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin
. The spotlight is now on tournament MVP Ryan Miller and this place is deafening!!!!! Class move by the Penguins fans. Now the crazy is giving it up for Brooks Orpik
. Next up is Marc-Andre Fleury
to get a salute. The scoreboard just showed a video of Sid's goal and it had mixed reaction. Again though, Penguins fans are total class and give a huge roar to Crosby as well!
We now have a USA! USA! USA! chant breaking out...you have to love American pride! Congrats to Crosby and Fleury on their gold medal. And a special thank you to Orpik and Miller for giving this country such a valiant effort when nobody expected anything from the Americans.
The Penguins have a new addition to the lineup for tonight's game as defenseman Jordan Leopold makes his Penguins debut after being acquired from the Florida Panthers yesterday. Leopold will wear No. 4 and be paired with Alex Goligoski. He has seven goals and 11 assists in 61 games.
The Penguins are back!!! Mellon Arena says goodbye to Monster Truck Series and Eric Clapton as the Penguins return from the Olympic break to host the Buffalo Sabres. These are two teams who would be facing one another if the playoffs were to start today. As the No. 4 seed, Pittsburgh would play host to the Sabres. Both teams, however, are only one point out of first place in their respective divisions.
Author: Jason Seidling