The Sabres ended two streaks tonight. Winless in four, and of course the 15 game streak by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mario Lemeiux, Jaromir Jagr, Tom Barasso and the like can crack open a cold one. The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins regulation win streak of 17 games remains intact.
In the first period, Ryan Miller had strong start, including two huge saves around the four minute mark. One of them was on Jerome Iginla point blank, while Miller was without his stick. Buffalo got themselves into penalty trouble early. Stafford took a slashing penalty at 7:15 and Mike Weber taking a double minor for boarding / unsportsmanlike conduct at 9:39.
During the first Weber minor, Kevin Porter was able to steal the puck in the Pittsburgh zone and score his first goal as a Sabre, an unassisted shorthanded goal at 10:24. This ended the Pittsburgh shut out streak at 215:15, and Tomas Vokoun’s personal streak at 173:06.
As the Sabres were just about to come back to full strength, Jerome Iginla scored his first goal as a Penguin on the power play at 13:27 on a one timer set up by Chris Kunitz. The Sabres took back the lead on a Steve Ott blast, his 6th goal at 18:10 past Tomas Vokoun on the stick side high on a great drop pass by Jason Pominville. The Sabres played a solid first period, even though being out shot 11-8.
Sabres picked up in the second period where they left off in the first, with Cody Hodgson scoring number 13 of the year at 2:21 on a great heads up play. This after Vokoun was taken out by his own player in the crease. Hodgson was able to complete the wrap around and stuff it in the net before Vokoun could get back into the net.
This was was followed up by Kevin Porter just over a minute later scoring his second of the game on a deflection through the pads of Vokoun at 3:28, chasing the Penguins goalie and forcing Fleury into the net. Patrick Kaleta drew a roughing penalty on Derek Engelland at 8:22, on which Drew Stafford hit the far post on a laser of a wrist shot.
The penguins continued to implode by taking a bad penalty for boarding at 10:25 by Simon Despres on Marcus Foligno, and a cross checking penalty on Brendan Morrow at 14:32. Buffalo did not score on the power play, but looked somewhat improved over recent games with their movement and possession.
The Sabres dominated the Penguins throughout the second period both offensively and defensively, with Fleury making multiple quality saves holding the Buffalo lead to three goals. The Sabres outplayed Pittsburgh in nearly every aspect of the second period, outshooting the Penguins 12-3.
The third period started with Pittsburgh continuing with the penalty problems, with Kaleta able to draw another penalty. This time from James Neal at 3:15 for interference, and then Chris Kunitz for tripping at 6:12. The Sabres again showed decent puck possession, however could not bury a power play goal.
Miller was not tested often, but was on his game when he was. Cody Hodgson took a very undisciplined penalty for a hooking at 15:10, giving Pittsburgh a chance on the power play late in the game. Once again, the Sabres played huge on the penalty kill.
I would venture to say that this was by far, the best all around game the Sabres played this season. Offensively, they dominated on the scoreboard. Defensively they held Pittsburgh to only three shots in the second period. Even without Crosby, this lineup is lethal.
A Sabres team that was thin on defense after the Leopold and Regehr trades, showed up and played hard. They were able to hold the 3rd ranked power play to only one goal in four chances. Miller was strong when he needed to be, making the big saves he had to.
Even though the Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Paul Martin, the Sabres played with seven players who started the year in the AHL, and with injuries to Leino and thier own leading scorer Thomas Vanek.
Game Notes: Ryan Miller set the franchise mark and passed Dominik Hasek with his 492nd career start in net for the Buffalo Sabres; Luke Adam made his season debut at forward for Buffalo, his first game since February 8th, 2012; Adam Pardy played his first game since March 3rd; Pittsburgh goaltenders came into the game with a shutout streak dating back to 3/24/13 in the second period against the Flyers; Penguin’s D-man and Western New York native Brooks Orpik played in his 622nd game, most at that position in franchise history passing Ron Stackhouse; Coming into the game Pittsburgh had outscored their opponents during the 15 game win streak 21-4 in the third period.