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Photo courtesy of The AP

Penguins throttle Sabres 5-1



Buffalo, NY (WGR 550)  -- Welcome one more time into the Ted Darling Memorial Press Box, high atop ice level at First Niagara Center. The Buffalo Sabres finish up the home portion of their pre-Olympic schedule, hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is one more chance for Ryan Miller to show Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma why he should be Team USA's #1 goaltender in Sochi.

It is fair to say that the buzz around Miller's tenure with the blue and gold has reached even greater heights than at the end of last season. Team general manager Tim Murray sat down with Schopp and the Bulldog earlier today and was very honest about the trade market for his backstop. To hear Murray's entire chat from this afternoon, click here.

Fell free to comment throughout the game tonight, and I will add my two cents along the way. Also, be sure to give myself and Brian Koziol a follow on Twitter for more: @PatWGR and @BrianWGR.

First Period

19:10 - There was a very nice tribute to all of the Olympians playing in tonight's game. All four of the Sabres playing in the tournament received a jersey from a youngster. Also, the Penguins Olympians were recognized by the public address announcer.

14:42 - Buffalo is able to kill of Alex Sulzer's minor penalty no worse for the wear. There were a couple of good chances by the league's best special teams unit, but nothing through.

14:02 - SABRES GOAL. Drew Stafford has scored each of his two games back from injury. He is able to poke the puck home among several bodies around Marc-Andre Fleury. He and Tyler Ennis have been much better since Ted Nolan took over back in November. 1-0 BUF.

12:13 - Zemgus Girgensons nearly made it 2-0 Sabres, except for a sprawling pad save by Fleury cutting across his crease. Brian Flynn set up a nice chance for his teammate gliding between the has marks. 

8:09 - The Sabres have shown some very good jump over the first half of this period. It has been an impressive start with body checks being thrown, and aggressive play out of almost everyone in the blue and gold. Shots are 10-8 in favor of Buffalo as well. 

7:43 - Deryk Engelland and John Scott decided to drop the gloves after discussing it, and I think the Penguins defenseman is regretting that decision. Engelland ate some good jabs before a right cross landed on the button. Each will sit for five minutes.

5:25 - Pittsburgh has picked up the pace and forced Ryan Miller to make a couple of quality saves in the last minute or so.

4:52 - PENGUINS GOAL. There it is. Mike Weber was caught drifting down below the goal line too far, and Harry Zolnierczyk took a pass right in front of the net and beat Miller with the shot. It felt like a matter of time before Pittsburgh would get the equalizer. 1-1 tie.

End of Period

Goal Summary

BUF: 5:58 - Drew Stafford (9) (Tyler Ennis
PIT: 15:01 - Harry Zolnierczyk (2) (Craig Adams, Sidney Crosby)

Penalty Summary

BUF: 3:14 - Alex Sulzer (2 min., tripping). 12:17 - John Scott (5 min., fighting)
PIT: 12:17 - Deryk Engelland (5 min., fighting). 17:38 - Matt Niskanen (2 min., high sticking)

Shots on Goal

BUF - 11, PIT - 13 


Second Period

18:25 - Miller comes up big as Brandon Sutter was able to get behind the Buffalo defense and go in on a partial breakaway. Even with a couple of fakes, Sutter was not able to beat the net minder, and fans came out of their seats in applause. Jamie McBain took a tripping minor moments later to put Buffalo shorthanded.

17:52 - PENGUINS GOAL. It did not take the Pittsburgh captain very long to score on the man advantage. Sidney Crosby split between two Sabres and wired a wrister into the far corner. It was a beautiful goal-scorer's goal. 2-1 PIT.

12:37 - File this one under the "only happens this season" file: Ennis took an errant puck right off the nose while sitting on the bench. Trainer Tim Macre came over, and stopped the bleeding by plugging it up. Ennis never left the bench and is ready for his next shift.

6:11 - Fleury just kept this game 2-1 in his team's favor by absolutely robbing Stafford on a cross-ice pass that was ticketed for twine. Both goalies have been at their best over the first 30+ minutes of this game. 

2:12 - PENGUINS GOAL. Evgeni Malkin absolutely dekes Miller out of his pads, and the goalie had no chance. What a goal by the Russian Olympic star. 3-1 PIT.

End of Period

Goal Summary

BUF: none
PIT: 2:08 - Sidney Crosby (28) PPG (Matt Niskanen). 17:48 - Evgeni Malkin (17) (unassisted)

Penalty Summary

BUF: 1:41 - Jamie McBain (2 min., tripping). 4:08 - Mike Weber (2 min., holding the stick). 19:24 - John Scott (2 min., unsportsmanlike conduct)
PIT: 19:24 - Tanner Glass (2 min., unsportsmanlike conduct)

Shots on Goal

BUF - 9 (20), PIT - 15 (28)

Third Period

16:08 - The Penguins look content to just let the clock run and get this one to the barn. Cannot blame them, they are one of the best when leading after forty minutes.

14:38 - PENGUINS GOAL. Faceoffs don't matter, except when they do. Brian Gibbons is able to get the goal as Alex Sulzer may have screened Miller from seeing it. 4-1 PIT.

7:48 - PENGUINS GOAL. This is piling on now. James Neal gets a shot through traffic, and I do not think Miller saw it. Four-goal lead for Pittsburgh. 5-1 PIT.

End of Game

Pittsburgh 5, Buffalo 1

Goal Summary

BUF: none
PIT: 5:22 - Brian Gibbons (4) (Brandon Sutter). 12:12 - James Neal (19) (Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik)

Penalty Summary

BUF: 19:13 - Matt Ellis (2 min., boarding)
PIT: none

Shots on Goal 

BUF - 5 (25), PIT - 6 (34)

Final Thoughts

Really, what is there to say about this loss? I mean that honestly, and without any snark. It was blatantly obvious that the Penguins have superior talent to Buffalo, and gives a good look at what it will take to be competitive in the conference for the forseeable future. Just one more game for the Sabres before the Olympic break. The blue and gold are in Ottawa tomorrow night for a 7:30 faceoff with the Senators. Catch all of the action, including pregame coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550.


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