Connect with us

Game Recap

Sabres keep playoff hopes alive

Buffalo takes it to a high powered and aggressive Penguins roster

Scoring1st2nd3rdTotal
Penguins0112
Sabres3025

Buffalo comes out strong and finishes a physical game over the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. A great game by Carter Hutton to control the pace and “Monster” Jack Eichel netting two goals on the power play, including the game winner, were key contributors to this win.

Getting the lead early is something the Sabres are getting used to, but what they do with that lead has contributed to the emotional roller coaster that this team has gone on over the last seven games. Now winning five of their last seven, the Sabres are still giving themselves a chance to catch the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third-place spot in the Atlantic. The importance of being able to bounce back from the beating they took on Tuesday night cannot be overstated, but they need to keep going if they want to make the Playoffs.

“We have to take it one game at a time. We’re just trying to chip away. In the grand scheme of things, we have a lot of work to do, but right now we can only focus on what’s at hand here.” – Carter Hutton

Contributions throughout the lineup were seen through the game today. Goals from four players and points from nine, we see that balance that Ralph Krueger has been working towards with this group. Most notable of those was Jeff Skinner, who had not scored a goal since December 2nd (23 games). Pushing through the mental strain of a slump like that is not easy, and those are the wins that Buffalo needs.

“I’ve had probably a couple other better chances to finish one, but he (Marcus Johansson) makes a great play there.” – Jeff Skinner

Pittsburgh was still able to show some signs of life. Evgeni Malkin, who has a strong history against Buffalo, put home two off of hard work around the net. The rest of the Penguins put pressure on Buffalo as they left the defensive zone, creating turnovers and poor passes. This is an area the Sabres have struggles and we are seeing quite a few teams press this way to expose this weakness. It needs to be addressed in order to be successful in the long run.

Goaltending was a big factor in this game as well. Hutton stopped 41 of 43 shots, including some stellar saves on Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh’s top scorer). You could see the frustration as the game went on and the crowd grew quiet. Tristan Jarry, who has played quite well this season, went just 21 for 26 tonight for Pittsburgh. The open time for Eichel on the power play and turnovers by the Penguins defense leading to Sam Reinhart’s breakaway contributed to the lack of success for Jarry.

The physical game has been tough throughout the season for Buffalo as well, but they kept up to Pittsburgh’s aggressive 40 hit total with 31 hits of their own. This definitely opened up the opportunities that the Sabres had tonight and we need to see this continue in order to give more time and space to the skill players on the team.

The Sabres return home tomorrow afternoon to face off against the Winnipeg Jets at 3 p.m. in KeyBank Center. Stringing together a weekend of wins would be huge for the confidence of this team and is necessary for keeping the playoff dreams alive.

Per.TimeEVGoalAssistAssist
1:14Zemgus Girgensons (11)Kyle Okposo (8)
16:48Sam Reinhart (22)
110:51PPGJack Eichel (34)Rasmus Ristolainen (25)Sam Reinhart (28)
211:10Evgeni Malkin (19)
35:39Jeff Skinner (12)Marcus Johansson (18)Michael Frolik (7)
312:17PPGJack Eichel (35)Rasmus Dahlin (33)Rasmus Ristolainen (26)
317:57Evgeni Malkin (20)

 

Click to comment

NHL Standings

TEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
7044-14-12100
7043-21-692
7036-25-981
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
6941-20-890
6941-21-789
6940-23-686
Wild Card leaders:
6838-25-581
7033-22-1581
-----------------------------------------
6835-23-1080
7037-28-579
6935-26-878
7131-31-971
6930-31-868
6928-29-1268
7125-34-1262
7117-49-539
TEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
7142-19-1094
7042-20-892
6937-24-882
Pacific Division Leaders:
7139-24-886
7137-25-983
7036-27-779
Wild Card leaders:
7137-28-680
6935-26-878
-----------------------------------------
6936-27-678
6935-27-777
7033-29-874
7032-30-872
7129-33-967
7029-35-664
7029-36-563