The Sabres came into the Consol Energy Center on Saturday, looking to get into the win column, but the Penguins denied that wish with a compelling 4-1 victory. As expected, Jhonas Enroth was given his first start of the season against the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury was in net for Pittsbugh, coming off a shutout in his first start against New Jersey.
In the first period, consistent pressure from Piitsburgh rolling four lines and pinning Buffalo on many occaisions throughout, kept the Sabres reeling. Buffalo’s passing continued to be an issue, along with difficulties clearing thier own zone and gaining puck possession.
The first goal was a failure to clear the corner by Buffalo, combined with Tyler Myers and Jaime McBain watching Crosby cut in front of Enroth resulting in two shots and an early goal for Pittsburgh. The goal came at 3:39 of the first, with assists to Matt Niskanen and Pascal Dupris.
Just over ten minutes later, Chuck Kobesew delfected a shot from the point by Brandon Sutter, after an extended period of time spent in the Buffalo zone. Niskanen picked up his second assist of the period on the goal. Enroth failed to keep the blade of his stick down on the deflection, resulting in the puck slipping behind the pads.
Fluery was not challenged but a couple of times, once on a deflection in front about midway through the first by Cody Hodgson, and on a nice shift by Vanek / Stafford / Hodgson in the last 1:30. Pittsburgh did a great job keeping most Buffalo shots from above or outside the circles. Buffalo continued strong penalty kiling, when a bad penalty was taken by Tyler Myers for the interference of Pascal Dupris.
The second period started just as the first ended. Pittsburgh continued to control play, and pin the Sabres in thier own zone. At just about the 1:30 mark, Malkin rang a rocket off the post that clearly had beaten Enroth glove side. Enroth made a huge blocker save at the six minute mark, when Pascal Dupris was left all alone in front of the Buffalo net.
The Sabres could not get any sustained pressure in the Penguins’ end in the second. They were able to generate a few quality shots, but the Penguins were clogging shooting lanes and keeping the puck from Fleury for the most part. Pittsburgh took a penalty for delay of game, when Brandon Sutter shot the puck out at 8:57. During this man advantage, the Sabres generated one shot on goal, and could not gain possession of the puck and set up the power play.
Enroth had a couple of big saves laying on the ice at the 17 minute mark, as the Penguins once again found large areas to maneuver in front of the Buffalo net. Sidney Crosby was guilty of a trip 18:01 on Kevin Porter. Buffalo was able to penetrate the blue line, and set up with some pressure in front of Fleury early in the penatly.
The Penguins netminder made three saves in about a two second time frame. Jhonas Enroth was forced to make two big saves on this power play on Dustin Jeffrey. Jeffrey was able to split the pairing of Myers and McBain and get the quality chances shorthanded. Buffalo once again was unable to cash in with the man advantage, moving thier yearly total t0 0-13.
The third period began with more sustained pressure by Pittsburgh, with Enroth making huge save at 1:30 mark on a falling shot by Malkin. Buffalo continued to show issues gaining possession of the puck, and Enroth continued his strong play in the net.
With 13:41 left in the first period, Sidney Crosby drew a penalty from Thomas Vanek while carrying the puck into the Buffalo zone on a 2 on 1. On this penalty, Enroth was quick with the pads and glove, making hige saves on Crosby with a clear breakaway, and Niskanen all alone on a reboud. Penalty killing has not been the issue, and the Sabres once again were strong in this area.
Chris Kunitz scored on a penalty shot after a hook by Mike Weber, with 9:51 left in the third period making it 3-0. Jhonas Enroth had made a big save on the original breakway by Kunitz, and then the follow up rebound by Pascal Dupuis.
The Sabres were able to break the shutout streak at 15:06, when Thomas Vanek deflected a shot from Cody Hodgson taken on the left wing. Ron Rolston decided to pull Enroth for the extra attacker, and Craig Adams was able to bury the puck into the empty net just as Enroth was getting to the bench making the game a 4-1 lead for Pittsburgh. This was also the final score.
Jhonas Enroth played very well tonight, and was given no help either on the scoreboard, or in his own zone. Zemgus Girgensons and Thomas Vanek were by far the best players on the ice for the Sabres. Christian Ehrhoff, speaking with Brian Duff: “We have a tough time scoring goals. We need to get the power play going and get pucks to the net. We didn’t take our game to them, and had difficlut time geting the puck into thier zone.”
The Sabres play next at home on Tuesday at 7:30pm, against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the First Niagara Center.
McBain played first gmae of season for Buffalo, Buffalo is now 0-13 on the power play for the season. Buffalo was 2 for 2 in penalty kills, remaining at 100% for the year. Three stars of the game: First, Sidney Crosby, Second Marc-Andre Fleury, Third Chris Kunitz.