The Penguins finished off their road-trip weekend with a stop in Buffalo to battle the Sabres for this first time this season. Riding high on a 4 to 3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, all that stood between Pittsburgh and the coveted number one spot in the Eastern Conference was two points. A win over the Sabres would allow Pittsburgh to leap-frog over the New Jersey Devils in not only the Atlantic Division but in the overall Conference. And leap-frog they would with a 4 to 3 win over Ryan Miller and company.
The Penguins would notch two goals within the first two minutes of the game, less than a minute apart. Pascal Dupuis would earn the Pens first off of a deflection from a shot by linemate Brooks Orpik with just thirty-five seconds off the clock. With just over a minute off the clock, Buffalo’s Tyler Myers would be called for a high-stick, sending the Penguins to an early power play. The man-advantage would provide the opportunity the Penguins needed to gain the two-goal advantage. This time it would be Sidney Crosby – arch nemesis of Buffalo’s Ryan Miller – earning his seventh of the season – unassisted. Crosby would park himself at the side of the net and find the puck along the boards. On his own, he would work it to the net and tap it over the line. The Sabres would bring it to within a goal before the ten minute mark, courtesy of Cody Hodgson. Buffalo would come within inches of tying it before the end of the second – literally – as the puck would skim the goal line, dying just before it crossed over. Pittsburgh would kill off an interference call against James Neal in the final five of the frame and would end the period with the man advantage when Robyn Regehr was called for interference in the final seconds of the period.
Eight minutes into the second, the Penguins would find themselves down two men after Sidney Crosby was given two minutes for a cross-check and Tannger Glass was given a minor for playing the puck with his hand off the face-off. Buffalo would seize the opportunity and it would Tomas Vanek, with his twelfth of the season, tying it up at two apiece. Pittsburgh would come close to pulling ahead but would encounter a lot of posts and cross-bars in the process, resulting in a two goal tie heading into the third.
Two and a half minutes into the third period, Cody McCormick and Tanner Glass would drop the gloves. Three minutes later, Steve Ott would score for Buffalo, giving the Sabres their first lead of the game. It would take Pasal Dupuis just two minutes to respond with his second of the afternoon, tying the game yet again. Kris Letang would spin from a point down the wall, dishing a pass off to Dupuis who would beat Miller with a one-timer. The Penguins would kill off a slashing call against Chris Kunitz, Marc-Andre Fleury coming up strong against a barrage of shots. James Neal would come close to tying it but would be robbed by Miller. Ultimately, it would be Paul Martin, with 2:04 left on the clock, pulling the Penguins ahead by a goal to seal the deal. The Penguins would take the game 4 to 3, returning to the top spot in the Conference and in the Division and going 2 and 0 on this weekend’s road trip.
Kris Letang led all skaters with 26:27 of ice time while Matt Niskanen followed with 23:03. Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis each had five shots on goal while Sidney Crosby recorded 4. Crosby and Dupuis each enjoyed three point games. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced while Ryan Miller stopped 31 of the 35 the Penguins sent his way.
The Penguins will have two days off before returning to Pittsburgh where they will welcome back the Philadelphia Flyers. Game time is 7:30pm.