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.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Malcolm Subban hospitalized after taking puck to throat

Malcolm Subban
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Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.

There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.

The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.

Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.

 

Senators get Kyle Turris back on Saturday

Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during overtime of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.

After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.

Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.

Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.