The Pittsburgh Penguins (16-8-5) bombarded the Buffalo Sabres in the first period and a good chunk of the second, but like their 2-1 loss back on Nov. 16, the Penguins didn’t fill the net behind a journeyman Buffalo goaltender. It looked the Penguins were on their way to an easy sixth-straight win, but they failed to crack Malcolm Subban despite 21 shots in the first period and complete control. Evan Rodrigues and Brock McGinn scored goals but Buffalo scored two in the final 28 minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Penguins center Jeff Carter took a minor tripping penalty in the waning seconds of regulation. The Penguins top-ranked penalty kill kept Buffalo off the scoreboard despite the 4v3 PP in OT.
Carter (9) redeemed himself when he slipped a shot through Subban with two minutes left in overtime, for a Penguins 3-2 win Friday at PPG Paints Arena. And the Penguins sixth win in a row.
It should have been an easy win. The Penguins outshot Buffalo 44-20 in regulation and 48-21 overall.
The Penguins laid siege to the Buffalo Sabres zone in the first period. Except for a couple of brilliant saves by Malcolm Subban, the Penguins should have had a several-goal lead. Subban even made a behind-the-back glove save on Evan Rodrigues.
However, Rodrigues struck first.
Nearly six minutes into the game and the Penguins blitzkrieg already underway, Rodrigues scored a power-play goal. It was the fifth shot on goal in about 30 seconds to begin the man-advantage, and Rodrigues (10) ripped a wrister through traffic.
His 10th goal set a career-high. The Penguins had 10 power-play shots on just two power plays in the first period.
The Penguins outshot Buffalo 21-5 in the first period. Rodrigues had six shots. The dominant first period meant the Penguins outshot Buffalo 41-8 over the last 40 minutes of hockey.
Tristan Jarry comfortably made all five saves.
The Penguins continued their onslaught into the second period, but things got a little bit interesting.
Again, six minutes into the period, Brock McGinn padded the Penguins lead. McGinn had a third chance rebound from the slot as Subban scrambled to the net and Buffalo defenders were absent. McGinn (8) whipped it into the net from about 20 feet and it stood as the game-winner.
The Penguins domination for the first 30 minutes may have quelled the beast as the game devolved into a sloppy back-and-forth between the blue lines for much of the second period before Buffalo made a game of it.
Midway through the middle period, three Sabres were uncovered near the net as Mike Matheson could only pick one to cover. Zemgus Girgensons (6) buried a rebound chance and the titled ice meant only a one-goal Penguins lead.
Later in the third period, Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (6) pinched from the point and snapped a rebound over Jarry’s blocker to tie the game, 2-2.
Pittsburgh Penguins Notes & Wrapup:
Penguins winger and Zach Aston-Reese dropped the gloves midway through the first period. Thompson is 6-foot-6 but it Aston-Reese landed a direct shot as the officials approached to break it up.
In the second period, Sam Lafferty trucked 24-year-old Casey Fitzgerald, who made his NHL debut. Fitzgerald decided to assert himself and the two had a spirited scrap at center ice. Hands, helmets, and jawlines were a little worse for wear.
Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry has allowed only 14 goals in his last 11 starts. He stopped 18 of 20 in regulation. Subban was spectacular and often had to be. The Buffalo goalie made 44 saves in regulation.
The Penguins visit the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night at 7 p.m.