It was quite the show Saturday night in Buffalo as the Sabres fell to the league-leading Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Both clubs were rather physical, providing loads of entertainment for viewers. The game is the second of four between the two original Winter Classic competitors this season.
Tyler Ennis netted his seventh of the year for Buffalo, and Jason Pominville scored his fourth. Unfortunately, neither tally was enough to secure a win, but that doesn’t mean the effort from the Sabres wasn’t there. It was-at least for the first two periods.
“We let off the gas a little bit in the third,” stated Mike Weber, who got physical with star Penguin Sidney Crosby after Crosby nicked him in the mouth. “I got him off the power-play for two minutes,” he added. Too bad Weber was given two extra roughing penalty minutes, but then again, he got the punches rolling.
Not only did the team start shutting down throughout the final period, Buffalo also ran into problems when firing shots. The guys were missing, shooting too wide, and not even giving Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury the opportunity to make a save. Head-coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t pleased. In fact, his phrase of the evening was “not good enough” because he must have repeated it at least 10 times in his post-game press conference. Is Ruff wrong? Not at all.
“We lost. It wasn’t good enough. They took advantage of our turnovers. We weren’t good enough,” he said.
Ruff also commented on Jochen Hecht, saying he expected more out of the forward. No kidding, Lindy. Everyone is expecting more out of Hecht, as he barely does anything anymore.
Pittsburgh made the score 2-0 all before the midway mark of the first period. Dustin Jeffrey tipped in his first of the season, while Arron Asham beat Ryan Miller with a slap shot for his fourth.
Buffalo responded Ennis’ goal at 15:49. On a five-on-three power-play, Derek Roy slid Ennis the puck, and he roofed it past Fleury, Ennis then skated into the boards and turned around, his confused face reading, “Hey guys, I just scored. Why are you not hugging me?”
They were fighting, that’s why. Apparently the Penguins decided showing off for the HBO reps (filming for their 24/7 journey to the Winter Classic coverage) was necessary. Brooks Orpik was in a squabble with Paul Gaustad, and Pominville went into a full fist fight with Matt Cooke. But have no fear Ennis, you weren’t forgotten. Maxime Talbot came and got you. The Pittsburgh forward skated over and put Ennis into a headlock, pulling him into the action in front of the net.
On his fight, Pominville said, “I don’t know if you can even call that a fight or not. That was my first fight, I think, ever.”
It was definitely a fight, and a most entertaining one at that.
The Penguins gained a two-goal advantage when Alex Goligoski wristed the puck past Miller for his sixth of the year midway into the final stanza. Crosby, who currently is the NHL’s top point-getter, earned an assist. The helper extended his point-streak to 18 games.
Less than a minute later, Pominville picked up Tyler Myers’ pass and powered up the boards. After his initial shot, Pominville took his own rebound and baffled Fleury by sending the puck right past him. The Sabres were back within one.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh wasn’t finished. Michael Rupp jammed the puck past Miller upon a pass from Jeffrey. The assist gave Jeffrey his second point of the night, while the goal was Rupp’s third of the year.
In an effort to even the score, Miller headed for the bench and the Sabres gained an extra attacker. Roy attempted to get the puck back to the point; however, Craig Adams intercepted the pass and dished the puck to Cooke, who buried it inside Buffalo’s empty net. The tally secured Pittsburgh’s 5-2 victory over Buffalo, giving Fleury his 11th straight win and increasing the Pens record to 14-0-1 in the past 15 games.
The Sabres remain home Wednesday night when the Boston Bruins come to play. Given the three days in between last night and the midweek matchup, the team has plenty of time to improve their game. This whole “we just weren’t good enough” situation is just not good enough for everyone else.