Sometimes, there aren’t great tactical moves, big hits and big emotions. Sometimes, a team must grab their lunch pale, hard hat and simply go to work. After 10 days of blistering games with playoff implications, the Pittsburgh Penguins earned a workman-like 5-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Three power-play goals didn’t hurt, either.
The Buffalo fans were a bit sour on Sabres and the fans earned that opinion. Buffalo did not push the Penguins with much enthusiasm and certainly didn’t push back with any force once the Penguins got into the game.
Buffalo was going through the motions.
“The first period was not great from either side,” Patric Hornqvist said.
“The first period was kind of a sleepy period. In the second period, we ramped it up,” Jake Guentzel said.
The Penguins were failing to make the simple plays for a while. They were carrying the puck into traffic and the Malkin-Kessel duo was responsible for several giveaways. Buffalo decided to deflate the game–they dropped back to clog the neutral and defensive zones. And the Penguins struggled to maintain interest in the game.
But like a Red Bull and a shot of Jagermeister, the Penguins power play kickstarted their game. The Penguins scored a power-play goal about seven minutes into the second period. And the game was not much in doubt after that.
Though Conor Sheary had several Grade A chances, including a nice deflection which hit Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith squarely on the mask.
We had a running gag on Twitter with some real consequences. The Penguins put a condition in the Sheary-Matt Hunwick trade which stipulatesd if Sheary scores 40 points or 20 goals the fourth-round pick the Penguins received will become a third rounder. Given the deep draft and Buffalo’s plummet, that could be a pretty good pick if Sheary scores nine more points or eight more goals.
The Penguins speed is again a threat to opponents, as indicated by the space they’re being given at the blue line. When the Penguins were old and slow, teams couldn’t wait to attack the stripe. Now, they’re backing off, which is increasing the Penguins rush attempts and speed into the zone.