The Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins on Hockey Day in America, looking to defeat the Penguins at the First Niagara Center for the first time since February 2012.
Unfortunately, Buffalo’s home losing streak against Pittsburgh continues to at least one more matchup.
Buffalo came out fast and strong, coming up with a large amount of the offensive chances throughout the first 20 minutes. As the game began, you could clearly tell that the Penguins played a game less than 24 hours ago.
Although the Sabres were keeping up on their floor checking and shots on goal, Pittsburgh still was the first team to light the lamp today.
A shot from around the Penguins’ offensive zone faceoff dot, to the left of goal, found its way into traffic. From there, the puck appeared to pinball its way on goal. As Robin Lehner moved right to stop the shot, the puck knocked off a lower-body and moved left. Lehner had no chance to stop this shot.
The goal officially goes in the book as Patric Hornqvist’s 12th goal of the season, at 9:09 of the first. This goal goes down as Hornqvist’s 300th point of his career and ended Robin Lehner’s career-high shutout streak at 126:59.
Buffalo continued to lay the pressure on offensively, mostly through the Larsson/Gionta/Foligno line. Offensive zone pressure from Larsson led to a slashing call against Pittsburgh.
Minutes later, Buffalo would find themselves getting on the board.
A timely pass from Pysyk to Bogosian, allowed Bogosian to load up on a shot. From the blue line, Bogosian’s rocket of a shot blew past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Bogosian’s 2nd goal of the season, at 13:48 of the first, tied things up at 1.
After one period, Buffalo and Pittsburgh found themselves tied up but the Sabres outshot the Penguins 15-6.
The Sabres looked to roll that offensive dominance into the second period, but that would not happen. In fact, the Penguins and Sabres would play polar opposites of the period they just completed.
A downward trend began when Jack Eichel took a cross checking penalty, standing up for Robin Lehner. What some people may have missed is that Hagelin took a whack at Lehner’s mask after he made a save. Eichel was having none of that.
This pushed play to 4-on-4, which Pittsburgh quickly took advantage of.
Just 17 seconds into the Eichel penalty, Kris Letang found a wide open Scott Wilson. Wilson deposited the puck top shelf over Robin Lehner. This goes in the book as Wilson’s 3rd goal of the season. At 5:28 of the second, Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead.
Buffalo’s nightmare period would continue. It seemed to most that the Sabres skate blades were either dull or they had concrete boots. Nothing was going right for the Sabres in the second.
Just when it appeared that Buffalo would get out of the second period only down a goal, the Penguins flexed their offensive muscle again.
Kris Letang, again, found a wide open Phil Kessel just to the side of Robin Lehner. As Kessel received the puck, Lehner dove to attempt a stop of a quick Kessel shot. Unfortunately for Lehner, Phil Kessel knows how to score goals. He sat back for just a second, and flicked the puck over Lehner.
Kessel’s 19th goal of the season, at 17:50 of the second period, put Pittsburgh up 3-1.
Buffalo’s misfortunes would continue in the third period.
The Sabres found themselves on a power play, but it ended up being anything but an advantage. Matt Cullen grabbed possession of the puck, and turned it into a mini break. Cullen put the puck on net, which seemed to lock up Robin Lehner. When it appeared that Lehner had stopped the puck, the puck leaked through the pads and into the net.
Only 13 seconds would pass before Buffalo struck bad. A powerful point shot from Zach Bogosian found a perfectly placed Brian Gionta. A spectacular tip from Gionta goes in the books as his 8th goal of the season. At 8:05 of the third, Buffalo found themselves down 4-2.
The Sabres would try their best to increase offensive zone pressure, but were only able to get within one goal.
Zach Bogosian’s fantastic day continued, when he scored his 2nd goal of the game and 3rd of the year. Unfortunately for Buffalo, the goal came at 19:38 of the third and would mark the end of the offense for the Sabres today.
When the final buzzer sounded, Buffalo had dropped this game 4-3.
With this loss, the Buffalo Sabres move to 24-29-7 on the season with 55 points.
With a West Coast trip coming up soon, let’s just move to the quick hits.
- Buy one, get one goal.
Have a day, Zach Bogosian.
When the final horn blew, Zach Bogosian found himself recording 2 goals and 1 assist, with that assist coming on Gionta’s tip up front.
Bogosian could have had himself a hat trick, how wicked would that have been? Either way, Bogosian was not happy postgame because the goals came in a loss.
“It would feel a lot nicer if we got the win,” said Bogosian. “I’ve been trying to get my shots through lately, seemed to pay off a little bit.”
- Reinhart is probably not a center.
Injuries, which we’ll talk about in a minute, have really depleted this lineup. One of the changes that occurred today was Sam Reinhart moving from wing to center.
Long story short, it was tough to watch.
Small sample size at center, but we now know why Reinhart is at wing. You see what Reinhart has done all season at wing and you wonder why you’d move him but injuries suck.
Get well soon everyone, Reinhart needs to go back to wing.
(I was told that I am overreacting, so I will gladly eat my words if I am wrong.)
- O’Reilly out long-term.
Bad news for the Buffalo Sabres came before the game, when the team announced that leading-point getter Ryan O’Reilly would miss today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a lower-body injury.
Quickly, the news got worse.
Following the game, head coach Dan Bylsma gave us an update on O’Reilly’s status.
“O’Reilly has a lower-body injury and will miss 3 to 4 weeks,” Bylsma told the media.
Tough break for this team.