The Pittsburgh Penguins play an 82-game schedule, so it’s inevitable that some games will blur together, and others will be forgotten entirely.
That’s not likely to be the case with either of their trips to Buffalo this season.
For very different reasons.
Their 6-3 defeat at KeyBank Center Nov. 2 probably was one of their most traumatic of the season, since they gave up five unanswered goals after taking a 3-1 lead early in the third period.
Friday night, the Sabres outplayed them for much of the evening, but the Penguins pulled out a 4-3 overtime victory, with Jeff Carter scoring the game-winner during a power play from in front of the net at 1:36 of the extra period.
Carter scored while Jeff Skinner was serving a match penalty for cross-checking Jake Guentzel in the mouth with 21.3 seconds left in regulation.
The victory raised the Penguins’ record to 15-8-4 and ran their streak of road games in which they’ve earned at least one point to eight (7-0-1), tying a franchise record.
The Penguins and Sabres will meet again Saturday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena in the finale of their season series.
The Penguins, who had a lackluster first period in their 4-1 victory against Columbus Tuesday, got another sluggish start Friday, as Buffalo recorded nine of the game’s first 10 shots on goal.
Only a couple of quality stops by Tristan Jarry — and another by the crossbar behind him on a Victor Olofsson shot — prevented the Sabres from grabbing an early lead.
It took most of the period, but the Penguins eventually became somewhat competitive and actually had a chance to be up at the intermission after being awarded the only power play of the period.
Buffalo’s Tyson Jost was called for high-sticking at 16:40 and both power-play units generated good pressure — it helped that two Sabres broke their sticks while killing the penalty — but the Penguins were unable to score.
The second period started much like the first. and the Pittsburgh Penguins again failed to capitalize on a chance with the man-advantage after Jacob Bryson tripped Brock McGinn at 7:03.
That power play was winding down when Jason Zucker was penalized for holding Dylan Cozens at 8:55, but the Sabres couldn’t convert during their time with the extra man, either.
Buffalo had run up a 21-8 edge in shots as the middle of the period approached when Guentzel broke in alone on Sabres goalie Craig Anderson, but failed to beat him.
It didn’t take long for Guentzel to get a measure of revenge, however.
He threw a shot past Anderson, who was being screened by Rickard Rakell, from above the left hashmark at 15:36, while Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt was serving an interference minor.
“The power play is starting to gain some traction,” Mike Sullivan said. “They’re feeling it.”
Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Petry got assists on the goal, which stretched Guentzel’s points streak to six games.
However, Buffalo countered quickly — and emphatically — and went in front before the period ended.
Olofsson tied the game at 18:08, after Jost set him up in front of the net, and Skinner made it 2-1 with 44.5 seconds to go before the intermission, beating Jarry from the lip of the crease.
Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju high-sticked Guentzel 12 seconds into the third, but Buffalo got through that shorthanded situation unscathed.
But just 41 seconds after Jojiharju returned, Rakell put a Danton Heinen rebound past Anderson to tie the game.
Sidney Crosby did not get a point on that goal, Rakell’s 11th, but he made an extraordinary play to initiate the scoring sequence.
The Sabres tried to clear the puck around the left-wing boards but Crosby, who was near the point, left his feet and slid into the boards to keep it inside the blue line, then threw a backhand feed to Heinen on the far side of the ice.
“It was an unbelievable play by Sid to keep the puck in,” Sullivan said.
Heinen’s initial shot missed the net, but he got it back a few seconds later and launched a turning forehand toward the net from the left hash, leading to the rebound that Rakell converted.
McGinn put the Pittsburgh Penguins on top, 3-2, when he scored on a slap shot from outside the right dot at 16:30, but Buffalo forced overtime when Kyle Okposo drove a shot past Jarry from the slot two minutes later, while Buffalo had a power play and Anderson had been replaced by Okposo as an extra attacker.