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Sharpen Up: March 22, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Buffalo Sabres, already down four defensemen due to injury, lost their biggest minutes eater 8:46 into what turned into a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.

After laying a big hit on Jake Guentzel 8:46 into the first period, Rasmus Ristolainen was given a five-minute interference penalty and a game misconduct, ending his night early. 

Here's what you need to know.

Check out the highlight package for all of the big talking points, including a highlight-reel goal from Sidney Crosby, a few big stops from Robin Lehner (who finished with 31 saves) and Sam Reinhart's 17th goal of the year. 

Video: BUF Recap: Reinhart scores in 3-1 loss to Penguins

From the game recap:

Ristolainen was skating backward toward the wall when he knocked Guentzel, who did not have the puck, down hard to the ice. Guentzel did not return and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame

"I don't like the fact that he got ejected," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think it's an unfortunate play. He's stepping up on Jake Guentzel I believe and the puck that is coming to Guentzel is stopped by Zemgus and Guentzel's unsuspecting at that point in time. Rasmus is committed to the hit and it's an unfortunate hit … I didn't like to see him leave the game."

With 1:25 remaining, Evander Kane was sent to the box for a high sticking double-minor after he caught Crosby in the mouth with his stick. The Penguins reported that Crosby lost some teeth as a result. 


Here's the Crosby goal that the League's Twitter account got pretty excited about a few times last night.

Tweet from @NHL: Sidney Crosby's abilities just don't make sense.
Tweet from @NHL: Sidney Crosby is simply spectacular.

"He had a ton of speed going through the middle of the ice and kind of rolled through the seam. It's something that he's done many times before," said Bylsma, who coached Crosby for six seasons with Pittsburgh. "Squeaks his way in there and it's a pretty amazing shot."

Video: BOGOSIAN: Postgame

"The way we kill, you're expecting him to kick that out," said Zach Bogosian, who was one of the four penalty killers on the ice. "He's a world-class player, I mean he picked the top corner with one hand. That's pretty impressive from him."

Video: LEHNER: Postgame

Lehner maintained that any goalie would've expected Crosby to bring the puck back to his forehand in that situation.

"That's what I thought," he said. "There's probably one or maybe two guys in the League that can score a goal like that."

By the end of the game, Bogosian had skated a career-high 33:29, while three other defensemen played 20 minutes or more. Brady Austin, playing only his second NHL game, came up just short at 19:00. 

"That's a lot of minutes for those guys to be logging against a good team," Bylsma said.

Video: REINHART: Postgame


Expansion talk

General manager Tim Murray joined WGR 550 before the game and the topic of the Vegas Expansion Draft came up. You as fans will be debating which seven forwards, three defensemen and goalie the team will protect for sure. 

The interview also touched on goaltending prospect Cal Petersen and other offseason evaluations. Catch it in full here.


Bowman Cup is tonight

The 13th Annual Scotty Bowman Showcase, which consists of three all-star hockey games between high school-aged players from the Buffalo and Rochester areas, kicks off at 5 p.m. tonight at KeyBank Center. Tickets for the event are $5.

Check out the full rosters here.

We'll have full recaps for you later tonight. 

E-Rod's journey

If you missed our latest Diamond In The Rough feature, we took a look at undrafted free agent Evan Rodrigues, who has carved out a solid role with the Sabres in the second half of this season.

Video: Diamond In The Rough: Evan Rodrigues

On tap today

The Sabres have a scheduled off day so we'll have full practice coverage for you tomorrow. Their next game is Saturday on home ice against Toronto

We're also a week away from the Alumni Wine Festival, so make sure you get your tickets today.


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