The Pens were not ready for the start of this game. Just 17 seconds in, Paul Gaustad was left all alone in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. He was able to elevate the puck over Flower for a quick goal. The same line (Gaustad, Greer and Niedermayer) would account for a second goal just 7 minutes later to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead.
Geno was hurt in a collision with Tyler Myers, and that seemed to wake up the Pens (according to Tony Granato between the second and third periods). Where the Sabres had been winning the little battles and being more physically aggressive early in the first period, the Pens were able to turn the tide. They delivered 54 hits to the Sabres and rode the momentum to three second period goals.
That would be all they needed, as Flower was able to shut the door the rest of the way, with some help from his defense (Martin and Goligoski both had nice blocks).
Jeffrey (4), Kennedy (9), Cooke (10)
- Matt Cooke got the game winner, and it was especially nice to see given the level of punishment he was taking (and handing out). Nice to see the hard work pay off.
- After a shaky start, the Pens were able to answer the intensity and desperation of the Sabres. I think the Sabres made a mistake in trying to be chippy and physical early in the game - it woke up the Pens. At that point, the boys in black staged their own version of the Under Armor commercial ("We must protect this house!")
- As physical as this game was, the Pens only gave the Sabres one power play. To be fair, that is due as much to the ref as it was to the Pens, but at least they didn't do anything that was blatant enough to warrant a call.
- Alex Goligoski had a strong night defensively, being in the right place at the right time (especially on blocked shots) on several occasions.
- Do they need to get down 2-0 and watch Geno get hurt to wake up? Self-motivation will be a key for this team going forward.
- Hopefully Geno isn't hurt too badly.
- Cooke trying to kill Montador when both were on the ground (and a linesman had separated them). That earned Matt a 10 minute misconduct and is generally a no-no in terms of sportsmanship.
- Cooke again - he was as animated as I can remember seeing him as a Penguin. He usually doesn't blow up or get overly emotional (that we see on camera), which is a must given the type of game he plays. Maybe after the crap with DiPietro the other night, this just put him over the edge...
What's their record now? Any important move in the standings?
The Pens are now 34-15-4. Still one point behind the Flyers in the Atlantic.
The Pens go to our nation's Capital to play the Caps on Sunday. It's the warm-up for the Super Bowl, and it'll be on NBC.