BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Alexander Sulzer #52 of the Buffalo Sabres and Tanner Glass #10 of the Pittsburgh Penguins reach for the puck on February 17, 2013 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Discuss: Penguins edge past Sabres in wild game


This match had some great goaltending regardless of what the final score might suggest. Ryan Miller in particular made a spectacular save on a James Neal shot in the dying minutes of the third period. However, that didn’t prove to be a game-changer as Penguins defenseman Paul Martin bested Miller with 2:04 left in regulation time to lead Pittsburgh to a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Here are the talking points:

  • Thomas Vanek is the first player to 25 points this season and it took him just 15 games. Is he a great player that’s off to a hot start or has he become an elite forward on the same level as guys like Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos?
  • Sabres forward Cody Hodgson scored his seventh goal of the season, giving him 14 points in 16 games. He’s getting more ice time with Buffalo than he ever did with the Vancouver Canucks prior to the Feb. 27, 2012 trade and it’s certainly paying off.
  • All the same, the Buffalo Sabres are now 6-9-1 this season. Will a rough start sink their playoff hopes yet again?
  • Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was certainly busy during the third period. He kicked out 16 of 17 shots over the final 20 minutes.
  • Pittsburgh is now 11-5-0, which by itself would be impressive, but keep in mind that they’ve played 10 of its 16 games on the road. With an 8-2-0 road record, the Penguins will return home for three straight contests at the Consol Energy Center.

Here are the highlights:

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Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.