The Pittsburgh Penguins welcomed back former Head Coach Dan Bylsma as the Buffalo Sabres came to town. The team provided a touching tribute video highlighting his years with the team and he received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The Penguins walked away with a 4-3 win, finishing the night with a perfect special teams record by stopping both chances against them and scoring on their own opportunity. The Sabres outshot the Penguins 53-29, much of that coming during the 3rd period as the Penguins collapsed into a defensive shell and were outshot 24-4.
The Penguins got on the board just 56 seconds into the game. Ben Lovejoy dished the puck to Sidney Crosby streaking into the zone with speed. Chad Johnson made the save, but Pascal Dupuis crashed the net and poked the rebound in under his pads.
The first line connected again at 7:16 in the 1st as Crosby dished a puck to the middle of the high slot where a wide open Patric Hornqvist was able to one-time it into the back of the net. Olli Maatta received the secondary assist on the goal.
The Sabres answered back at 14:25 in the 1st as a shot sailed through a sea of bodies and was deflected in by Jamie McGinn who managed to get positioning on Maatta. Between the screen and the deflection there was nothing Jeff Zatkoff could have done there.
The Sabres then tied it up at 16:40 in the 1st as Ryan O’Reilly threaded a pass through the crease from behind the net and Nicolas Deslauriers was able to slam it home in close.
The first penalty of the night was called at 6:06 in the 2nd period as Ben Lovejoy was sent to the box for hooking. The Penguins successfully killed the penalty and got the puck up ice to Lovejoy as he was sprung from the box. He carried the puck into the zone, dropped a pass to Malkin, and crashed the net to get a quality chance when it was sent back to him and then managed to score on his own rebound to retake the lead at 8:18 in the 2nd.
The Penguins then got their opportunity when Mike Weber was tagged for tripping at 14:08 in the 2nd. They got sustained pressure in the zone and put pucks on net, with Evgeni Malkin picking up his own rebound and giving them a power play goal. Hornqvist and Phil Kessel picked up the assists on the goal.
The Sabres battled back and dominated puck possession in the 3rd period. They pulled their goalie late in the game and the Penguins got caught in their own end. They were unable to clear the zone and had multiple turnovers as a tired Malkin was unable to keep the puck on his stick. They scored at 17:34 in the 3rd period as Matt Moulson chipped a puck to Ryan O’Reilly who sniped one in from the slot.
Things got even more hectic in the final minutes of the game as Kris Letang was called for chipping the puck over the glass at 18:09 in the 3rd period and they spent most of the final minutes battling at 6-on-4 with the Sabres pulling their netminder once again.
The Penguins next head back on the road again, facing off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday at 7pm before heading off to Western Canada next week.