Mere hours after signing James Neal to a six-year/$30 million contract extension, the Penguins quickly found themselves down 2-0 just 4:16 minutes into the first period of Sunday’s game. Paul Gaustad netted his seventh goal of the season at 2:52 of the second period to drive out Penguins starting goaltender Brent Johnson. However, Marc-Andre Fleury did not fare much better as Buffalo went onto win 6-2.
Derek Roy, who has been a big disappointment this season, came up big with two goals and an assist. Thomas Vanek managed to stay out of the sin bin a day after Sabres coach Lindy Ruff called him out for taking selfish penalties. Vanek also registered an assist and finished the game with a plus-three rating. Meanwhile, Christian Ehrhoff, who has been quiet offensively for the Sabres since missing most of January due to an upper body injury, recorded a season-high three assists.
On the Penguins’ side of thing, the newly signed Neal did register an assist on Jordan Staal’s power-play goal and was one of the few Pittsburgh players to finish the game with a neutral plus/minus rating. Evgeni Malkin also got an assist to give him a league-leading 71 points in 52 games.
Buffalo desperately needed this win as they are still seven points behind the eighth place Toronto Maple Leafs with just 23 games left to go. Pittsburgh’s situation isn’t nearly as dire, but this is a setback as they battle for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Stars place Lehtonen on IR, call up Campbell and Nemeth
Tim Gleason has likely played his last NHL game. The 32-year-old defenseman has informed the Carolina Hurricanes that he no longer wishes to continue his professional tryout.
“Tim informed us today he wasn’t going to continue to pursue his tryout,” said GM Ron Francis, per the club’s website. “He looked and felt good physically, but didn’t feel up to the grind of the NHL mentally.”
“We got outcompeted in the second period, badly,” Mark Letestu told the team’s website. “Whether it was little puck battles or even just executing on systems. It played right into their game. When you get behind a team like this that’s so dominant in the circle it’s tough to generate chances to come back. We didn’t deserve to win this one at all.”
As if things weren’t bad enough, the Oilers also lost Nail Yakupovto injury after a linesman (yes, a linesman) fell on top of him.
After the game, head coach Todd McLellan didn’t hold back:
"That's a really disappointing effort from our hockey club… We weren't a very determined team." McLellan on the #Oilers defeat