Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Snap Shots: Pens 5, Sabres 4

by Michelle Crechiolo @pensinsidescoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Thoughts, musings, and observations from the Penguins' 5-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena.

* Tonight, we got a look at what could potentially be Pittsburgh's opening-night roster. And of course, the line of Conor Sheary, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel starred for the Pens. The three of them combined for two goals and eight points, and it's truly impressive to watch how they read and react off each other across the entire length of the ice. I know 'Sid and the Kids' hit a rough patch in the playoffs, with Patric Hornqvist filling in for a stretch, but they seem to have rediscovered what made them the NHL's best line at the end of the 2016-17 regular season.

* Guentzel's goal was a perfect example of their chemistry. After they chipped the puck in the offensive zone, Sheary dug the puck out from along the boards and sent a short, crisp pass to Crosby, who moved into the slot. Guentzel, who had drifted behind the net, recognized the play unfolding and jumped out to the side of the net. Crosby put it right on his stick, and he one timed it without hesitation. It's like these guys have ESPN or something.

* On if that line has elevated their play since last year, Mike Sullivan had this to say: "I thought they were dynamic tonight. They have a certain chemistry, I think, that makes them a real good line. They all think the game at a high level, they have quickness, they have great puck skills and all three of them, they're brave. They play in the battle areas, they're as good a line as I've seen below the goal line and playing in tight space and I think they play that give and go game extremely well. I thought they were dynamic tonight, I'm not sure they were any different than they were in the playoffs or in the past. They've been dynamic for us here since we put them together at the end of last season."

* The chemistry hasn't come back as quick for Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, but it's shown at times. In the third period, Malkin sprung Kessel with a perfect pass, allowing him to split the defensemen, go in and snap a snipe past Chad Johnson. Before that, they had gotten denied on a 2-on-1. The chances are certainly there for those two.

* The Pens may have won by a decent margin, but overall, it wasn't their best effort - and they still have some stuff to work on heading into the season opener on Oct. 4. I think the biggest thing is just tightening up. They were sloppy with both their decision-making and execution, and relied on their elite talents to make up for that in the offensive zone.

* The Pens drew three penalties of their own, and found the back of the net twice. The Pens have the luxury of deploying so much elite talent throughout both units, particularly with Letang and Justin Schultz, who scored along with Malkin.

* Now in the sixth game of the preseason, the number of penalties called has gone way down compared to the first couple. For the most part, the Pens did a good job of staying disciplined, and didn't get called for any slashing penalties or faceoff violations. Carl Hagelin, Carter Rowney, Greg McKegg and Scott Wilson all saw shorthanded time up top.

* Letang made a play in the first period where I think we all thought to ourselves, 'Man, it's so good to have him back.' The Pens turned the puck over in the neutral zone and the Sabres were about to head off on a 2-on-0 or a breakaway, until Letang decided to join the party. He sprinted back and broke up the play, preventing a Grade-A scoring chance.

* Ryan Reaves made his presence felt tonight. First, when he and Evander Kane - who had been in each others' faces all night - finally exchanged blows. And second, when he stood up Zemgus Girgensons and sent the big boy flying to the ice. The fans definitely showed their appreciation for the newest Penguin.

View More