-Greetings on a wonderful spring day in Pittsburgh. It's not just a good day for hockey. It's a good day, period. Looking down Forbes Avenue:
-Big news today as Dan Bylsma revealed Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will be returning to the lineup. Malkin has been nursing a suspected right shoulder injury. This is a pefect chance to ease him back to the lineup.
-How this will impact their lineup is a question mark. Will the team simply scratch Dustin Jeffrey? Or Steve MacIntyre? Will Jarome Iginla return to his wing? Or Brenden Morrow? What about Robert Bortuzzo or Simon Despres?
-One thing is certain is that this game doesn't mean a lot to either team. The Penguins don't seem to value the President's Trophy a great deal and the Sabres' season has been all but finished since Friday.
-Dan Bylsma was asked today about Chris Kunitz getting some increased time on the penalty kill in recent games. He explained that it wasn't a result of some of the team's recent injuries and that it is in fact something the team wants to used in the postseason. Expect to see more of Chris Kunitz on the penalty kill regardless of his teammates' health.
-Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start the final three games of the regular season. All against non-playoff teams. This will be a good chance for him to iron out any wrinkle in his game if any exist.
-The Sabres are expected to start Ryan Miller tonight. Some are speculating this could be his final game with the Sabres given how his game has melted down this season. If it is, it will bring an end to an odd era for the Sabres who emerged from the 2004-05 lockout as a team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations but never quite lived up to them. Miller was partly responsible for those shortcomings.
-This is probably the greatest Tweet we've ever received:
-Tomas Vokoun is on the cover of IceTime:
-The BuffaSlug has returned:
-Some sights around the barn. Fans entering the barn:
-The always rare Dan Bylsma Mighty Ducks/Ben Lovejoy combo:
-Marc-Andre Fleury Team Canada:
-There are a few Sabres fans on hand. Patrick Kaleta:
-Former Penguins/Sabres forward Bob Errey:
-Another former Penguins/Sabres forward, Miroslav Satan:
-It takes some ... manhood ... to wear a Matt Cooke Canucks jersey:
-Mark Eaton No. 7:
-The always rare Ron Stackhouse:
-Jersey of the Night: James Neal Iowa Stars:
-The Penguins's awards will be distributed tonight.
-The Good Guy award, selected by the media, goes to Matt Niskanen.
-The team's Masterton nominee which goes to dedication and sportsmanship in hockey goes to Sidney Crosby.
-The Player's Player, as selected by the players, goes to Brooks Orpik.
-The team's MVP is Crosby.
-The Booster club award which rounds up the three star totals throughout the season goes to Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-The rookie of the year award goes go Simon Despres.
-The community service award goes to Matt Cooke. We're not sure if that was cleared with any Boston broadcasters before hand.
-The defensive player award goes to Paul Martin.
-The Penguins' starters are Pascal Dupuis, Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Sidney Crosby, Simon Despres, Eric Hartzell, Steve MacIntyre, James Neal and the great Joe Vitale.
-The Sabres' starters are Tyler Ennis, Brian Flynn, Kevin Porter, Christian Ehrhoff, Andrej Sekera and Ryan Miller.
-Their scratches are Patrick Kaleta, Ville Leino and Tyler Myers.
-It appears the Penguins lines and defensive pairings will be:
Jarome Iginla - Evgeni Malkin - Pascal Dupuis
Chris Kunitz - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Brenden Morrow - Jussi Jokinen - Beau Bennett
Tanner Glass - Dustin Jeffrey - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
Mark Eaton - Deryk Engelland
-The scratch of Tyler Kennedy is very interesting. He had a sure goal last night he biffed on during a power play last night. Perhaps that was the last straw for the coaching staff. That said, the team has a luxury of experimenting with its lineup right now.
-Jimerson handles his business:
19:29: Letang swipes a slapper from the right point on net. It gets blocked in front.
18:33: Stafford chases down a puck on the right wing and chops it on net. Fleury punches it away.
18:17: Off a little give-and-go passing with Cooke, Kunitz swipes a wrister from the slot which Mike Weber blocks.
17:03: Glass smacks Nathan Gerbe with a hit into the left wing boards of the Buffalo zone.
15:38: Dupuis settles puck at the right point and whips it on net. Miller fights it off.
15:15: Iginla pounds a slapper from the right half wall. Miller steers ita way.
15:09: Niskanen strikes a slapper from the right point. Miller boots it out.
14:08: Vanek slides up the left wing and deals a pass to the blue paint which hits something and deflects away.
12:50: Iginla rips a wrister from the left circle on net. Miller fights it off.
11:22: Off a turnover by Jeffrey in the neutral zone, Gerbe puts a wrister on net from the ri ght wing. Fleury fights it off.
8:39: Flynn snaps off a wrister from the right wing on net. Fleury eats it up.
7:11: The Penguins get sloppy in their own zone and pay the pirce. Cody Hodgson collects a puck below the goal line, skates by a check from Sutter and taps a backhanded pass from the right of the cage to Vanek in slot. Vanek has an acre of ice to work with and he booms a one-timer from the slot who blows by Fleury's glove hand. Hodgson and Stffor get assists. The Penguins were just sloppy in their own zone there. Sabres 1-0.
6:51: Chris Kunitz ties it up in no time. On a rush into the offensive zone, Sutter slides a pass to Kunitz on the left wing. Kunitz gains the zone, enters the left circle and rips a shot to the far side. It glances off Miller's glove and flutters into the cage. Miller looks back in confusion then looks up in disgust. That's an awful go to allow. Sutter and Cooke get assists. The "Hey Song" is never awful. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.
5:02: A backhander by Porer is fended off by Malkin.
4:47: Dupuis snaps off a wrister which Miller denies.
2:18: Niskanen swipes a wrister from the right point. Glass is in the slot and re-directs it on net. Miller fights it off.
1:55: Dupuis booms a quick slapper from center point. Miller fights it off.
1:05: Hecht appears to tip up Malkin in the neutral zone. No call.
0:43: Kunitz has a chen in right but can't settle the puck enough to get a clean shot off.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.
-We're pretty sure we watched scrimmages at Southpointe during the lockout that had more intensity than this sleep apnea-fest. There was some ugly hockey.
-Evgeni Malkin looked strong and energetic his first two shifts then kind of leveled off after that. He was hard to notice the latter half of the period.
-Pascal Dupuis is particularly aggressive with his shot tonight. He's shooting from everywhere.
-It's interesting to note Jarome Iginla worked primarily on the left wing with Malkin at center and Dupuis at right wing. Iginla's not traditionally a right winger.
-The Penguins have a 12-11 edge in shots.
-Dupuis, Iginla and Vanek each lead the game with three shots.
-Ehrhoff leads the game with 8:15 of ice time.
-Letang leads the game with 7:57 of ice time.
-The Penguins have a 9-7 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Malkin and Sutter are each 3 for 4 (75 percent).
-Mikhail Grigroenko is 2 for 4 (50 percent).
-Chad Ruhwedel, Flynn and Orpik each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: It appears Orpik is missing from the team's bench.
18:51: A slapper by Hodgson is fought off by Fleury.
16:35: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Jeffrey lifts a wrister from the right circle. Miller stops it with his chest.
15:46: Malkin circles the offensive zone with the puck and deals a pass to Letang on the right wing, Letang slides it back to Malkin in the left circle. Malkin sails a wister wide to the far side.
14:41: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Weber snaps off a wrister from above the left circle wide to the far side.
14:16: Attendance is announced as 18,630. It is the team's 277th consecutive sellout.
13:42: Hodgson streaks up the left wing and lifts a wrister to the far side. Fleury swats it away whit his glove hand.
13:35: The Sabres seemingly tie the game but officials rule otherwise. Sekera gets a pass at center point, glides in down the slot and rips a wrister by Fleurys's blocker. Jokinen appears to shove Vanek into Fleury. Fleury fell over. There was minimal contact however. The goal is nullifed as a result of the Vanek penalty. That's a big break for the Penguins.
13:10: Ehrhoff and Letang collide at the Penguins' blue line. Letang goes down in a heap and loses his stick while Ehrhoff appears surprised. Play continues. Letang takes a moment to collect himself and his stick and returns to the bench.
13:05: Steve Ott booms a slapper form the left circle. Fleury fights it off.
12:07: Weber lifts a wrister from the slot. Fleury fights it off.
11:54: A wrister by Flynn is blocked by Engelland.
11:09: Stafford controls a puck on the left wing wall of his own zone and taps a pass up ice which springs Vanek on a breakaway. As Murray lumbers in chase, Vanek glides in and lifts a wrister which Fleury fights off with his left arm. Big save.
10:32: Letang heads to the dressing room.
9:18: Dupuis races up the left wing against Ehrhoff and loses the puc for a moment. Malkin follows up, claims the puck and goes deep to the right corner. He deals a pass to Dupuis in the right circle. DUpuis jabs it on net. Miller holds it out. During a television stoppage, Letang returns from the dressing room.
8:47: Miller turns a way a backander by Adams.
6:29: After Ehrhoff breaks his stick, Bennet collects a lose puck in the right circle and attacks the net with a backhander which Miller fights off.
5:14: Malkin races behind the Buffalo net, emerges on the left of the net and sneaks a backhanded pass to Dupuis positioned in the slot. Dupuis swats a forehand shot on net. Miller fights it off
4:34: Letang is in deep on the left wing an deals a backhanded pass from below the goal line to Dupuis in the slot. Dupuis has a one-timer teed up but fans on the shot.
2:36: Morrow gets a chance in the left circle off a steal by Bennett. He snaps off a wrister which Miller appears to get a piece of.
2:16: A late power play for the penguins as Weber is called for tripping up Bennett behind the Buffalo net. Iginla, Jokinen, Malkin, Kunitz and Letang take the ice. Steve Ott gets pretty animated in his protest of the penalty and is sent to the dressing room with a 10-minute misconduct.
1:32: Hecht slams Letang to the ice HARD at the Buffalo blue line.
1:13: Off some rotation in the offensive zone, Iginla booms a one-timer from the slot. Miller kicks it out.
0:28: Iginla booms a slapper from above the left circle. Miller says no.
0:16: The Weber minor is killed.
0:10: Off a feed from Letang, Iginla cranks a one-timer from the left of the cage. Miller fights it off. Iginla slides the rebound to in the slot. Dupuis sweep the a backhander on net with a mass of bodies in the cease. It hits off Adam Pardy's leg. Play is halted. Pardy is called for cross checking Morrow. The Penguins get another power play. Sutter, Kunitz, Bennett, Niskanen and Letang take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.
-First things first. There is no update on Brooks Orpik as of yet. He did not play at all that period.
-Play opened up a bit that period with some quality scoring chances but this is still a pretty dreadful game to watch.
-Malkin had some serious jump that period. He slanted the ice when he had the puck.
-Kris Letang took a couple of big hits that period. He's just a magnet for abuse.
-Shots are tied, 21-21.
-Iginla leads the game with six shots.
-Vanek leads the Sabres with four.
-Ehrhoff leads the game with 17:29 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 17:18.
-The Penguins have a 21-12 lead in faceoffs (64 percent).
-Malkin is 8 for 12 (67 percent).
-Porter is 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-Weber, Ehrhoff, Sekera and Letang each lead the game with three blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have 1:50 of power-play time on fresh ice. Kunitz, Jokinen, Malkin, Letang and Iginla take the ice.
19:14: Kunitz tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Miller fights it off.
18:26: Off a feed from Bennett from the right circle, Dupuis punches a shot wide to the right side.
18:10: The Weber minor expires. Not much going on there for the Penguins.
16:56: Ruhwedel collects a loose puck at the right half wall and booms it on net. Fleury kicks it out with a thud.
15:22: Kunitz deals a pass from the left wing to Dupuis in the slot. Their timing is off and Dupuis misses the puck.
14:16: Murray pumps a wrister on net from the left point.
13:50: The Sabres get the lead back. After Vanek wins a puck a battle with Bennett on the left wing wall of the Penguins' zone, Hecht recovers the puck int he left circle ands swats a one-timer which blows by the glove hand of Fleury. Jokinen seemed out of place on that. Vanek and Mark Pysyk get assists. Sabres 2-1.
12:23: A slapper by Niskanen from center point appears to hit Morrow in the mid-section in front of hte cage.
12:04: Ruhwedel swats a loose puck on net from the right wing. Fleury eats it up. Per the team's public relations staff, Orpik is out due to a "lower-body" injury and will not return.
10:13: Sutter deals a little feed from behind the cage to Cooke in the slot. Cooke jabs a little shot on net which Milelr holds out. There's a scramble for the puck but the Penguins can't beat Miller. Play is halted for a bit as Miller has a cut on his finger addressed by an athletic trainer.
9:30: The Penguins get a power play as Ehrhoff is called for delay of game after putting the puck out of play from his own zone. Malkin, Letang, Iginla, Morrow and Jokinen take the ice.
8:58: One of the new guys does it again. Iginla takes a pass from Malkin at the left half wall. He taps it to Letang a center point. Letang one-touches it back to Iginla above the left circle. Iginla rockets a one-timer to the far side which blows by the glove hand of a screened Miller and hits twine. Morrow had a great screen on that. Letang and Malkin get assists. The "Hey Song" is always great. Penguins 2, Sabres 2.
6:39: HUGE save by Miller. Jokinen leads a rush into the offensive zone down the slot and deals a pass to Bennett on the right wing. Bennett attacks the net with a free lane and lifts a wrister. Miller slides to his left and juuuuuust gets a piece of Bennett wrister with his left arm. Wow!
5:56: Dupuis pushes the puck deep on the right wing and leaves a pass for Letang in the right circle. Letang rips a shot to the far side. Miller gets a piece of it with his blocker and the puck deflects out of play.
5:05: Letang takes a pass above the right circle, moves ot the slot and chops a slapper on net. Miller fights it off.
3:22: Letang leads a rush through the netural zone, dodges a check from Stafford at the red line, gains the offensive zone and attacks the net from the left wing. He tries to jam in a shot but Miller holds it out.
3:05: Glass controls the puck just outside the Buffalo blue line and is launched by Weber. What a hit by Weber.
2:41: Jeffrey tries to wheel around Pysyk but has the puck stolen. WHat a play by Pysyk.
2:34: The Sabres go to the net and cash in. Or do they? Pysyk taps a puck by Eaton in the Penguins' zone and rips a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fights it off but allows a rebound which flutters up in the air. Ott follows up on it and whacks the puck out of mid-air into the net by Fleury's glove hand. Officials rule it a goal as the Penguins protest a potential high stick against Ott. A lengthy review takes place. Officals rule it a goal. It seemed like the video evidence available was inconclusive There really wasn't a definitive view which showed if Ott's stick made contact with the puck above the cross bar. Pysyk gets the only assist. Sabres 3-2.
1:56: Niskanen chops a slapper from the right poitn which hits the end boards.
1:29: Fleury is pulled for an extra attacker.
1:20: Kunitz chops a feed from the left point to the slot. Letang is there and taps it wide of the net.
1:07: Iginla whips a wrister from the slot which hits something and bounces juuuuust wide.
0:48: Off a feed from Malkin, Kunitz snaps off a wrister which hits something in front.
0:32: Game. Set. Match. After a neutral zone turnover by Letang, Hodgson feed a pass from the right wing corner to Vanek in the slot. Vanek slams it into the open cage for one of us:
Hodgson and Stafford get assists. Sabres 4-2.
0:00: End of game. Sabres 4, Penguins 2.
-First things first. Brooks Orpik was diagnosed with a "lower-body" injury pending further evaluation. With the team taking the day off tomorrow. We presumably won't get an official update on his status until Thursday.
-Honestly, we've watched preseason games which seemed like they had more on the line than this game tonight. This was some ugly hockey. Neither team had much to tangibly gain in terms of the standings and it showed. There wasn't a ton of urgency in this game from either team. The primary value of this game to the Penguins was avoiding injuries and they failed at that.
-The first goal by Chris Kunitz aside, Ryan Miller was pretty strong tonight. He was the story of the game. He turned away a ton of quality scoring chances. He made a CLUTCH save against Beau Bennett moments after the Penguins tied the game late in the third period as well. Miller earned this win for his team in a big way.
-Evgeni Malkin looked strong for the most part in his return. The shifted for the Penguins when he had the puck. There were some less-than-sharp moments but he still looked like the most dominant skater on the ice most of the game.
-Pascal Dupuis had an outstanding game offensively. He was very aggressive with his shot and just went to the net a ton.
-Marc-Andre Fleury could have been a little sharper in this game. That said, we're not sure how much weight you can put into this mostly meaningless game.
-Kris Letang had a few bumps and bruises after taking a few big hits in this game but nothing appeared to be serious.
-The Penguins' power play is starting to round into shape. Setting up Iginla in the left circle is starting to resemble how the Lightning set up Steven Stamkos from that spot on the ice.
-Douglas Murray had a rough game. It was really his first bad game with the Penguins. The Penguins had to mix-and-match their defensive pairing quite a bit tonight. Perhaps not playing with Matt Niskanen threw him off a bit.
-The Penguins led the game in shots, 42-33.
-Iginla led the game with eight.
-Thomas Vanek led the Sabres with five.
-Only five skaters (Orpik, Mark Eaton, Adam Pardy, John Scott and Andrej Sekera) failed to record an official shot on net.
-Letang led the game with 28:16 of ice time.
-Sekera led the Sabres with 26:21.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 34-22 (61 percent).
-Malkin was 11 for 18 (61 percent).
-Brian Flynn was 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Letang led the game with six blocked shots.
-Sekera led the Sabres with four blocked shots.
-Fleury recorded his 150th career loss. He trails Tom Barrasso (153) for most losses in franchise history.