Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins

Sabres survive in battle of Eastern heavyweights

The new-look Sabres wasted no time recovering from their first defeat of the season as they traveled to Pittsburgh and beat the Penguins 3-2. Saturday’s game was the second game of a back-to-back situation that started with a 4-3 loss at home to the Carolina Hurricanes. Against the Penguins, the Sabres wasted no time as they jumped out to 2-0 lead by the end of the 1st period. The teams traded a pair of goals before Jordan Staal shaved the lead to a single goal with about five minutes left. The Penguins threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Sabres goal in the final minute, but Buffalo narrowly escaped with the regulation win.

The win improves the Sabres’ record to 3-1 on the young season—all three wins coming away from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. This game was big for a few different reasons for the Sabres though. They wanted to get back to their winning ways, wanted to beat a team that should be battling with them at the end of the season for playoff positioning, as well as taking advantage of a shorthanded opponent. Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff shared after the game:

“We wanted to win this game bad. You get an opportunity to play a team without a couple of their star players, you’ve got to start taking advantage of it.”

Not a bad result for a team playing their back-up netminder.

On the other side of the rink, the loss dropped the Penguins to 3-1-2 on the young season. The first regulation loss certainly had its positives though. James Neal’s second period goal was his 5th of the season putting him in a tie for the league’s lead. The lucky bounce off of defenseman Robyn Regehr’s stick is just the latest in a charmed week for the former Stars forward. This is the goal scoring power forward GM Ray Shero thought he was getting when he acquired Neal from Dallas for promising defenseman Alex Goligoski. What will he be able to do when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are back in the lineup?

The game was the final contest of an underwhelming 3-game homestand. Next, the Pens head back to Canada for their fourth game above the border in the early part of October. At least they’ll be able to rack-up those frequent flier miles and pack away the passports early in the season.

Blackhawks baffle Ducks with late magic; Kane’s streak at 18 games

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The Chicago Blackhawks may not be at peak-level right now, but they’re still a tough team to finish off.

For most of Friday’s game, it seemed like the story would be about John Gibson possibly elbowing into the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 role, continuing that franchise carousel.

Instead, it was about yet another tremendous comeback for Chicago, as the Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit. Artem Anisimov than scored the OT GWG.

Stunning stuff … though definitely not unprecedented.

With less than 30 seconds remaining, Patrick Kane grabbed an assist on Duncan Keith‘s 2-2 goal. Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, tying a record for America-born players.

For the Ducks, it’s yet another gut punch, one that makes you wonder how they’d fare in another playoff series against Chicago (if they can even get there … a big if).

Tyler Johnson’s injury: One of several ominous signs for Tampa Bay

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The gloom only seems to lift from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cloudy season in small drizzles.

Sure, they’re on a three-game winning streak, but the Washington Capitals seem to be on the verge of ending that with a thud (they’re currently up 3-0 going into the third period).

Update: Washington managed a 4-2 win, giving the Capitals a four-game winning streak.

That’s the least of the Bolts’ concerns right now, really, as Tyler Johnson left Friday’s game seemingly injured.

The word seemingly comes into play because details are scarce, as reporters note.

/ominous music plays

If you look at Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule, things could get downright stormy.

They face the Islanders at home, but they do so tomorrow so they won’t be well-rested. It gets worse from there.

Dec. 2 – 6: Three-game road trip against the California teams

Dec. 10 – 12: Two home games (one vs. Ottawa, one vs. Washington)

Dec. 14-18: Another three-game road trip

Long story short, they close up a back-to-back set at home tomorrow and then play six of eight on the road.

/even more ominous music

The end of 2015 looks friendlier, but for a team that seems to be cratering here and there … things look a bit morbid.

We’ll see if they can keep fighting, perhaps with a comeback tonight?

The ghost is here: Another OT-winner from Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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Here’s an easy way to remember how to spell Shayne Gostisbehere’s maddening last name (and even his first name can trip you up).

Ghost-is-be-here, without the h.

Not too bad, right?

If you’re more of the slogan type, it’s getting to be the point where “Tough to spell, tougher to stop” may be a pretty good one-liner.

The Philadelphia Flyers phenom has made a habit of scoring overtime game-winning goals on the power play lately. Friday’s version was the decisive tally in a 3-2 OT win against the Nashville Predators, which you can watch up top.

As you can see in comparing that goal with the one below (which made the difference against the Carolina Hurricanes), opposing coaches may want to make it a point to emphasize stopping this setup, even if it means writing “Don’t let that Ghost kid free.”

All three of his goals are on the power play so far.

Will he breathe life back into the Flyers’ man advantage at this rate?

Julien says Lundqvist’s acting ‘doesn’t need to be on the ice’


The goalie interference penalty called on Brad Marchand late in Friday’s Thanksgiving Showdown didn’t sit well with the Bruins.

Marchand, whistled after making contact with New York’s Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third, said he thought “it was a bit of a weak call,” adding “[Lundvqist’s] out of the crease, and he lightly gets touched.”

While Marchand took issue with the call, his head coach took issue with King Henrik.

(In Julien’s defense, Lundqvist does have a pretty lengthy IMDB page.)

The interference penalty was nearly disastrous for the Bruins, as J.T. Miller scored on the ensuing power play to given the Blueshirts a 3-2 edge.

However, Boston replied with a power-play goal of its own — Ryan Spooner, at the 16:14 mark — which set the stage for David Krejci‘s dramatic game-winner with just under two minutes to go.

So, to recap: Today’s game had the Beleskey hit on Stepan, the Marchand-Lundqvist theatrics and a dramatic come-from-behind victory for Boston.

And so, to answer your next question:

These two teams next meet on Monday, Jan. 11, at MSG.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’