In a night where the Pittsburgh Penguins (11-4-3) put up 47 shots, Buffalo Sabres(6-8-4) goaltender Anders Nilsson threw up a brick wall in front of his net. And even though Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury played a good game, it wasn’t enough, and Pittsburgh lost 2-1 in a shootout.
In the end, the Penguins’ offense had plenty of chances but just couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Nilsson, who put in a wonderful performance.
Sidney Crosby ended the night as Pittsburgh’s only goal scorer. His 12th goal of the season came on one of only two Penguin powerplays. While the Sabres had four chances to score with extra men on the ice, both Pittsburgh’s penalty kill and Fleury stood up to Buffalo.
It was Cal O’Reilly, who replaced his brother, Ryan O’Reilly (out with injury), who was able to maneuver past Fleury in the shootout and show Pittsburgh the door.
The Penguins were very much in the game the entire night; there was no lack of effort.
Is Fleury the Future?
Since Matt Murray returned to the team (injury) and began starting, Fleury has yet to record a win. Since November 3 — his first start after Murray’s return — Fleury has a record of 0-1-2 in four outings. Though he may not have started the blowout loss to the Washington Capitals, the veteran goalie still allowed five goals.
It’s not time to push the alarm button just yet; don’t forget his incredible start to the season. Plus, Fleury’s start against the Sabres was very good; his opponent just outlasted him.
Pittsburgh shouldn’t be concerned just yet, but management has a lot of thinking to do before the expansion draft this coming offseason.
Fleury seemed like a formidable force for the starting job, but since Murray has come on the scene, Fleury’s level of play has decreased. If he doesn’t improve and add notches to the win column, general manager Jim Rutherford’s decision will be easier.
Of course, there’s still a long season ahead, but the battle for the starting job is certainly something to keep an eye on.
An Unsolvable Puzzle
Saturday night, Nilsson just couldn’t be figured out. His only blemish came with a man in the penalty box and on a shot smoked off of Crosby’s stick.
His performance broke a six-game skid for Buffalo and should be the huge confidence boost that the Sabres desperately need.
If not for his stellar game, the Penguins almost certainly would have been able to finish a few more of their shots.
The Penguins will come back home after a four-game road trip to play host to the New York Rangers. The divisional game will take place Monday at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Image credit: Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP