The Pittsburgh Penguins had plenty of shots, but only one rebound chance. The Buffalo Sabres broke Casey DeSmith’s shutout streak just 26 seconds into the game, and that goal by Arttu Ruotsalainen set the tone. The Penguins’ afternoon nap was costly in their 4-2 loss to Buffalo at Key Bank Arena on Sunday.
Buffalo apparently had enough of DeSmith’s shutout streak against them. DeSmith shut out Buffalo in three previous meetings, including two this season (179:52). Penguins defenseman Kris Letang pinched, but Bryan Rust didn’t cover, and Buffalo had a two on one. The rookie Ruotsalainen (2) finished the odd-man break.
It was a sign of things to come.
The team which scored first has won the last 11 meetings between the Penguins and Buffalo, which upheld the streak on Sunday.
The Penguins had four high-danger scoring chances in the first period, but Buffalo goalie Dustin Tokarski was again solid and stopped all four. He allowed only one rebound. Stats according to NaturalStatTrick.com
Buffalo scored early in the second period, too. The Penguins failed to get the puck out of their own zone, and Jeff Skinner made a rare appearance. Skinner zipped a pass to Sam Reinhart (16) on the right wing, and Reinhart ripped a shot to the far post past DeSmith.
The Penguins never really found their rhythm despite dominating the shots and offensive zone possession. Buffalo chose to allow the Penguins to control the puck, but Buffalo created a fortress around their net, often deploying all five players well below the dots.
The Penguins had three more high-danger scoring chances in the second period but were not close enough. They created only one rebound chance in the first 40 minutes—none in the third period. The Penguins were shooting. They had 12 and 13 shots in the first two periods, respectively, but only had a single second chance.
That won’t win many games, especially with only a couple of chances on the rush, too.
The regulation loss snapped the Penguins’ five-game points streak and further underscored the Buffalo resurgence over the past 12 games. Buffalo is 6-3-3 in that span, despite trading highly sought veterans Eric Staal and Taylor Hall.
Midway through the third period, the Penguins PK, which has recently been victimized at an alarming rate, was again burned in the third period.
Midway through the third period, Reinhart (17) scored on the Buffalo power play, which should have ended the festivities. However, like the game on Saturday when Buffalo rallied in the second half of the third period, so did the Penguins.
First, Jason Zucker (7) scored off an offensive zone faceoff. Buffalo gifted Zucker a loose puck in the slot, and he snapped it past Tokarski.
The Penguins earned a power play shortly after but could not light the lamp. The rally fizzled. Buffalo had three of four high-danger chances in the third period.
Rasmus Asplund scored the empty netter. The Pittsburgh Penguins loss also ended their points streak in Buffalo at 14 games (12-1-2).
Teddy Blueger added a garbage-time goal on a good wrister.
DeSmith stopped 24 of 27 shots.
Tokarski was very good. He stopped 34 of 36 shots.
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 Stars
- Jeff Carter
The big center kept his line moving and earned an assist on Zucker’s third period goal. No Penguins player had more shots, as Carter got four on the net. He also had one takeaway and two blocked shots.
- Sam Reinhart
Two goals and several more offensive chances. Reinhart has flourished under head coach Don Granato.
- Dustin Tokarski
The Buffalo goalie was a brick wall in his second win of the season. Except for Blueger’s late goal, Tokarski kept the Penguins at bay. He yielded only one rebound.