Sabres owner criticizes goaltending (or lack thereof)

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Saturday night’s 8-3 loss to Pittsburgh was a tough one for Buffalo netminders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. Miller allowed three goals on the first seven shots he faced (including a 60-foot slapper from Jason Williams) before being replaced by Enroth, who promptly allowed a soft Evgeni Malkin backhand to get past him. Miller then returned for the start of the second period — only to be yanked again — before Enroth returned for the final frame.

That brutal performance drew the ire of Buffalo owner Terry Pegula.

“We saw some great goaltending tonight, didn’t we?” Pegula said outside the dressing room. “If they think they played well, we’ve got more problems.”

After spending huge in the offseason — Pegula committed nearly $140 million in player salaries this summer — you can’t blame the owner for being pissed. Sure, the Sabres are still in a playoff position, but they’re also 8-9-3 at home this season, have suffered a rash of injuries and had their team toughness called into question after the Miller-Milan Lucic incident.

Speaking of Miller, he wasn’t pleased with his performance either.

“It’s a little disheartening for the guys,” Miller said. “They weren’t very good goals. I’d like to be better for them.

“We’ve got to find a way to get the right energy. From my side I didn’t provide any. Actually, I probably took some away from the guys not making the right reads or the right plays.”

Miller’s fall from grace this season is stunning. Normally atop most statistical goaltending categories, his goals-against average of 3.12 ranks 37th in the league while his save percentage of .902 is 32nd. Enroth, meanwhile, has cooled off considerably since his outstanding start to the year. He’s lost eight of the last 10 games he’s appeared in and his save percentage over the last three is a meager .873.

If the goalies are expecting words of encouragement, they’d better not look to head coach Lindy Ruff. His assessment of both guys’ performances from Saturday night was pretty blunt.

“There’s no secret. It was a tough night for Ryan, starting with the first goal,” Ruff said. “I didn’t like Jhonas, the goal he lets in, obviously. Every shot starts going in it’s tough on the team.”

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby shifts into high gear, Carlson clobbers Malkin

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You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.

The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.

It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.

MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start

That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.

Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.

Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.

There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?

Buckle up.

Video: Crosby scores two goals in 52 seconds vs. Capitals

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.

To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.

Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below: