PITTSBURGH, PA (AP) - The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.
That changed Saturday night.
Nathan Gerbe and Luke Adam each had a goal and an assist, backup goalie Jhonas Enroth made 29 saves and Buffalo beat Pittsburgh for the first time in almost two years, 3-2.
"We wanted to win this game bad," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "You get an opportunity to play a team without a couple of their star players, you've got to start taking advantage of it."
Still without Crosby, Pittsburgh played this one without Malkin, too. Crosby, though, took part in the morning skate and is cleared for contact as he continues to recover from a concussion sustained nine months ago. There still is no timetable for a return to game action.
Although Malkin returned with a two-point effort Thursday after missing two games, his surgically repaired right knee was sore again Saturday.
Malkin tore his ACL when Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers hit him Feb. 4. Already without Crosby at that point, the Penguins beat Buffalo that day anyway. And again on March 8 to close out a season series sweep and extend their run against Buffalo to 15-4-1 - including 8-1-1 in the past 10 meetings in Pittsburgh. The Sabres' previous win over the Penguins was Dec. 29, 2009, in Buffalo. ...MORE.
With a little less than six minutes remaining in the first period, the line of Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam and Jason Pominville increased the fore check in the Pittsburgh zone. Vanek chased down a loose puck that had made its way behind Marc-Andre Fleury and, while sliding across the ice, tipped it up to the blue line to a waiting Jason Pominville. Pominville in turn fed the puck back to Vanek at the half-wall who slid a perfect one-timer pass to the waiting stick of Luke Adam who had made his way to the front of the net. Adam knocked the pass home to collect his third goal of the year and put the Sabres up by two.
Buffalo keeper Jhonas Enroth showed just how valuable a backup goaltender can be. Enroth may not have notched a shutout, but he did pick up his first win of the season and turned away 29-of-31 Pittsburgh shots to lead the Sabres to their third win of the regular season. Enroth hit his stride in the second period, making numerous saves on odd-man rushes and giving the Sabres an opportunity to win the game.
- Tonight’s Sabres/Penguins game marks the teams’ second back-to-back series of the year. Buffalo has a league high 21 back-to-back series this year.
- Jochen Hecht missed tonight’s game as he continues his recovery from a concussion suffered in training camp. Hecht collided with defenseman Shaone Morrisonn.
- For the fourth straight game, Matt Ellis & Mike Weber were healthy scratches for the Sabres.
- Nathan Gerbe scored his first goal of the year at 9:24 of the first period.
- Luke Adam continued to make a case as the #1 center for Buffalo as he finished the night with 2 points (1+1) and a plus- 1.
- Forward Drew Stafford scored his third goal of the year which was also his 200th career point.
- Tonight’s 3-1 win was the first time since December 29, 2009 that Buffalo defeated Pittsburgh
The Sabres return to Buffalo following tonight’s game to practice on Monday before venturing out on a three game road trip. Beginning in Montreal on Tuesday, Buffalo takes on the Canadiens and then heads to Florida to take on the Panthers and Lightning on Thursday and Saturday respectively.