It looked like the referees would play a significant role in a Pittsburgh Penguins defeat. The Penguins got breakaways and odd-man rushes but could not score. After 50 minutes, they trailed the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Those on the outside will focus on the two disallowed goals, but that would be a misdirection.
On the inside, the goals were momentum builders. The negated tallies emboldened the Penguins and did not deter them. However, a late goal by Zemgus Girgensons in the Penguins’ crease delivered a 3-1 Buffalo win at PPG Paints Arena.
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“I thought we were just rolling by then. We felt like we were right there where we had some time,” said Rickard Rakell. “We were creating pretty much on every shift, and, yeah, it’s tough getting those disallowed, but I didn’t think that it affected us too much.”
Midway through the third period, the controversial calls flipped in the Penguins’ favor as they were given a full two-minute 5v3 power play. With only eight seconds remaining on the two-man advantage, Erik Karlsson set up Rakell’s game-tying goal.
But the Penguins still couldn’t beat Buffalo goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen a second time. Not even 45 shots on goal and 27 scoring chances were enough.
In wins and losses, a common and striking theme of specific roster construction comes to light.