This game was close to start but as it progressed into the second period it turned into what most of us thought it would turn into, the Penguins being the far superior team and pretty much doing what they wanted with Buffalo. There wasn't a ton to be all that excited about for Buffalo because even though they went into the first intermission tied 1-1 but the Penguins were swarming and seemed to be ready to break out. They ended up doing that.
Buffalo actually scored the first goal of the game just six minutes in and while you might not have thought they could hold that lead throughout the game it was only the 18th time this season that they have scored the first goal. I have no idea what the league average is of scoring the first goal but I assume it is more than that. Also it seems as if there has been an emphasis on just going all out and competing for 60 minutes for this Buffalo team and you never want to give a team like that any life. Nobody likes to get embarrassed in the NHL and they are still all professionals and while they are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference they still have some wins this season.
The Penguins got the goal back thanks to Harry Zolnierczyk and then took the lead for good in the second period when Sidney Crosby decided to be the best hockey player in the world. You know, the usual.
From then on the Penguins were all over Buffalo. The Sabres only had 14 shots over the last two periods after having 11 in the first period. The defense wasn't overly sharp in the first period but they really buckled down over the second and third and held it down in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Speaking of which, MAF was pretty good. Sure, you are going to say that Buffalo is a bad team that doesn't score a lot of goals but with the shoddy play in front of him in the first it could have easily been a Penguins deficit heading into the second and despite the dominant play in the second and third for the Penguins you can't really expect that they would have done that had the Sabres had two or three goals in the first. Even though he didn't face much rubber over the final 40 minutes he had to make some big time, point blank saves to hold the lead and it was a really solid game by MAF. He did struggle for the better part of a few weeks but has bounced back to have a really nice stretch over the last three games. He will need that heading into Friday against the Rangers.
I mean I don't really think this needs said but the best players for the Penguins were the best players in the game. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin really took the Sabres to task and you could tell who the better team was. For long stretches they had no idea how to stop Crosby and later in the game Malkin took over with James Neal and they weren't going to be stopped. Really good stuff from those two and when they are on like that the Penguins aren't going to lose many games.
Anyways, good stuff tonight. One more game before the Olympic break and that comes Friday against the Rangers. Before the week I was talking to a friend and I told him that I would be happy with the Penguins getting four of the six available points this week and right now the Penguins already have four points. Sure, I would love to have the one or two more points from the Rangers but I think this week has been pretty successful already.