Final: BUF 4 PIT 5 OT
Shots: BUF 32 PIT 45
Power Play: BUF 2/3 PIT 1/5
Hits: BUF 28 PIT 35
Blocked Shots: BUF 20 PIT 4
BUF: Evander Kane (10) assisted by Jack Eichel (11) and Sam Reinhart (4)
BUF: Sam Reinhart (3) assisted by Marco Scandella (4) and Kyle Okposo (5)
PIT: Patric Hornqvist (6) assisted by Riley Sheahan (2)
BUF: Jack Eichel (5) unassisted
PIT: Conor Sheary (7) assisted by Patric Hornqvist (4) and Olli Maatta (8)
PIT: Sidney Crosby (6) assisted by Phil Kessel (16) and Justin Schultz (4)
BUF: Benoit Pouliot (6) assisted by Sam Reinhart (5)
PIT: Phil Kessel (8) assisted by Evgeni Malkin (14) and Ian Cole (2)
PIT: Conor Sheary (8) assisted by Sidney Crosby (9) and Kris Letang (13)
After two disappointing losses to the Panthers and the Canadiens, the Sabres battled the defending champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Robin Lehner and Matt Murray would start in goal for their respective teams. Lehner didn’t start against Montreal because it was a back to back but, he played out of his mind against the Florida Panthers on Friday night as he made a few huge saves.
Josh Gorges broke up an early 2 on 1 by cutting off a pass by Phil Kessel in front of the net. Since Gorges has returned, he’s played fairly well and he’s been better defensively.
Jack Eichel showed great patience on a 2 on 1, threaded the needle to Kane, and Kane ripped it past Murray to give Buffalo the early lead. Kane and Eichel have connected like this a few times already this season.
Buffalo had another 2 on 1 but this time it was Eichel and Reinhart. Reinhart was in a position where he probably should’ve shot the puck but you really can’t go wrong with passing to Eichel on a 2 on 1. Unfortunately, Eichel barely missed the net.
Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t good at all in the 1st period. They gave up several 2 on 1s. They’re lucky that Buffalo only connected on one of them.
Jason Pominville had a good chance in front of Matt Murray but he just missed wide of the net. Pominville is still playing well despite being moved off of the Eichel and Kane line.
Ian Cole absolutely throttled Sam Reinhart and without any hesitation, Eichel and Kane dropped the gloves instantly and started to go after Cole. I loved to see this out of our star players. It’s moments like these that bring the team closer together.
Eichel took a roughing penalty for going after Cole and the Pens yet again let up another 2 on 1. This time it was O’Reilly and Larsson abut Johan couldn’t beat Murray. Luckily he drew a penalty on the play.
On that power play, Marco Scandella put the puck on net and Sam Reinhart was planted in front of the net to put it past Murray for his 3rd of the season.
Late in the 1st, Lehner made a bad pass behind the net and Hornqvist took advantage by bouncing the puck off O’Reilly and into the net to cut the lead in half.
Eichel tucked the puck past Murray early in the 2nd to regain the 2 goal lead. Eichel finally broke his 8 game goal drought. This gave Eichel his first career Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Penguins responded well to the Eichel goal. Maatta made a long pass to Hornqvist to set up a 2 on 0. Hornqvist mad a nice pass to Sheary and he tapped it in to make it 3-2.
It seemed like Pittsburgh woke up in the 2nd. They had a lot of chances early on. Riley Sheahan had a great chance but Lehner robbed him to keep it 3-2.
Matt Moulson was back in the lineup tonight and as usual, he was completely useless. He took a lazy hooking penalty on Phil Kessel in the offensive zone. While shorthanded, Benoit Pouliot took a very stupid offensive zone cross-checking penalty which would give the Pens a 51 second 5 on 3 man advantage. Thankfully, Buffalo killed the penalties off.
Nick Baptiste took a slashing penalty and Buffalo would give Pittsburgh another power play. Like Jack Eichel, Sidney Crosby also broke a long goal-scoring drought tonight. Crosby scored his 1st goal in 11 games on that power play to tie the game at 3.
Right after Crosby’s goal, Robin Lehner robbed Carl Hagelin to keep the game tied.
Right after Lehner’s save, Reaves took a penalty on Kyle Okposo to give Buffalo a late power play. Sam Reinhart found Benoit Pouliot in front and Benoit finished it off perfectly to regain the lead. Pouliot has been playing very well lately and he’s been one of the only guys who is actually producing goals. I really like that signing by Botterill. Yes, he takes some dumb offensive zone penalties from time to time but, he’s scoring so I can live with that.
Okposo had a great chance early in the 3rd but he was denied by Matt Murray. Okposo looks like he’s starting to get it going as of late. He has 2 points in his last 3 games.
Late in the 3rd, Malkin pretty much went through the entire Sabres team and then left Phil Kessel wide open for the pass and he ripped the one timer past Lehner to tie the game at 4. Beautiful play by the Penguins.
After making a big save after Kessel’s goal, Lehner was shaken up in a collision. He just needed a minute to collect himself and he kept playing. Besides that mishap behind the net at the end of the 1st, Lehner played very well tonight and made a handful of huge saves.
There was a scramble in front of the Buffalo net with about a minute to go. I don’t know how Pittsburgh didn’t score but Pominville was able to cover the puck to force overtime.
It didn’t take long for the Penguins to score in OT. Crosby held Kane off behind the net and he found Conor Sheary wide open beside the net to beat Lehner. Sheary was Eichel’s man and that’s just an inexcusable defensive mishap.
Not a bad game overall by the Sabres. It’s nice to see Sam Reinhart start to produce again now that he’s back with Eichel and Kane. Buffalo will play the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. This will be a winnable game so hopefully, they can take advantage.
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