Buffalo Sabres drop first of back-to-back against Penguins

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 21: Sidney Crosby
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 21: Sidney Crosby /

The Buffalo Sabres started the first of two back-to-back contest against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist fed off of Buffalo’s mistakes, defeating the Sabres 4-0 at Key Bank Center.

The Buffalo Sabres controlled the flow of the game to start off the contest by consistently pressuring the Penguins’ defence. Suddenly, Victor Antipin took a shot from the point that was blocked by Tom Kuhnhackl. Kuhnhackl raced away from Antipin but was unable to get the shot away as the Sabres’ defender got the stick too far around him.

Kuhnhackl accepted the puck from center ice for the penalty shot and slipped it right over Robin Lehner’s left shoulder for the early Pittsburgh lead.

Moments later, Rasmus Ristolainen was trying to clear the puck through the center of the ice, which is something that should never be done. None other than Sidney Crosby intercepted the puck and shelled it past Lehner to double the lead early on.

Ryan O’Reilly and  Kyle Okposo found some good chemistry towards the end of the first. Shots came from both but none were able to go past Tristan Jarry.

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The Swords needed something positive to happen before the end of the first. Instead, a rebound from a Ristolainen shot went all the way to center where Jake Guentzel picked it up. His wrap-around opportunity deflected off of Marco Scandella’s stick for the third goal of the night.

Buffalo’s horrendous powerplay carried over to the start of the second period. The Sabres were given two opportunities, both of which generated no penetration on the Penguins. Way too easy for Pittsburgh’s penalty kill unit.

The Penguins were toying with the Sabres in front of the Buffalo net right before the second frame ended. Crosby, Conor Sheary and Hornqvist sent the puck to each other with no resistence from the Sabres. Hornqvist eventually possessed the puck right in front of the net and put the dagger into the Sabres’ hearts. 4-0 for the visitors.

Kyle Criscuolo continues to make his case as a keeper for the squad. He flew away from the Penguins defense in the third period, but his backhand attempt was again denied by Jarry.

Buffalo’s next and last big chance would come off of a Sam Reinhart shot that got tipped by Nathan Beaulieu, but turned to the boards by the rookie goalie Jarry.

By the time all of the Sabres fan left towards the end of third, all you could hear was Penguins’ fans cheering as their team accumulated another victory.

Key Stats

Buffalo Sabres

  • 34 shots
  • 49 percent of faceoff wins
  • 0/4 on the man advantage
  • Key Player: O’Reilly with 3 shots and a 56% in the circle

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • 25 shots
  • 14 blocks
  • 5 turnovers
  • Key Player: Jarry with 34 stops for first career shutout

Buffalo’s treacherous season only continues from here. Lehner looked very uncomfortable in net, especially when Pittsburgh’s stars were releasing on him.

The Sabres got their defense back to full health tonight as Zach Bogosian checked back into the lineup. You’d think some momentum might be generated from the back with full stamina, but instead the defense cost the team two goals as a result of turning the puck over.

The  offense continues to find themselves in the same goal drought scenario that they’ve been in for months now. Doesn’t help when the power-play is 10 for 81 on the season, which is good for 30th best in the NHL.

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The Sabres say hello to the Penguins again tomorrow night at PPG Paints Arena in Pennsylvania. Get coverage for anything related to the Buffalo Sabres right here on Tip of the Tower.

Who takes the contest tomorrow night in Pittsburgh? Glad to see Bogosian back in the lineup? Let us know in the comments below.