Very early in the opening contest for NBC’s Hockey Day in America broadcast, it seemed as if the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to wipe the floor with the hosting Buffalo Sabres.
The Penguins scored twice in the first 87 seconds — ironically the same number of the second goal scorer — to pull up 2-0 on a sluggish-looking Sabres squad. The Sabres were able to come back, and even take the lead early in the third period, but it wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh used two third period tallies, the final coming with 2:04 left to play, to take the nationally televised game 4-3.
It was another contest in which the Sabres found a way to lose while the Penguins found a way to win.
““The puck just found it’s way towards me and I just put it to the net and it went in,” Penguins defenseman Paul Martin said of his game-winning goal. “I think it maybe went off [Sabres defenseman Christian] Ehrhoff’s hip, I think it moved a little bit when I saw the replay.”
The Penguins scored the first goal of the game just 35 seconds into the contest when Pascal Dupuis tipped a Brooks Orpik shot past Ryan Miller. The second goal would come just 52 seconds later when Sidney Crosby punched a puck past Miller to put the Penguins up by two in the blink of an eye.
“I think just making sure we keep it simple from the start,” Crosby said about the two quick goals. “We give ourselves a chance to get our feet under us and hopefully get a chance to get in the offensive zone. I don’t think that we specifically think about scoring, it is just more or less getting in their zone and getting to our game.”
Buffalo, while they could’ve packed it in very early, fought hard to get back into the game. They used a goal in each period to comeback
and take the lead against the Penguins. However, the lead was very short-lived as Dupuis notched his second goal of the afternoon less than two minutes after Steve Ott put Buffalo up by one.
The way the Sabres played down the stretch when they had a chance to pull out an upset victory had Miller boiling over.
“Just [expletive] losing at the end. It’s 3-3, get to overtime. It’s 3-2, [expletive] make him come all the way down,” he said.
Miller looked as if he was going to say more, but he paused, took a deep breath, and collected his thoughts before continuing on with his post game interview.
Success for the Penguins against Buffalo is nothing new, especially for Crosby. In 21 games played against the Sabres, the 25-year old has 29 points (11+18).
“It’s been good and I think that the games are over so fast; you have to prepare yourself to play a fast game,” said Crosby. “For whatever reason, I’ve always been able to put some pucks up but you know it is great ice here. That’s all I can say.
“I’ve just been able to score. That one today, I think it goes off their defenseman and in. I don’t think I do anything differently here or against Ryan (Miller) than I would against anybody else.”
Thomas Vanek did extend his point total to 25 points, and his goal total to 12. He leads the NHL in both categories, but is up only by one point of Crosby, and one goal on Penguins forward James Neal and New York Islanders Center John Tavares.