Sabres Rivalries: Pittsburgh Penguins

This is a feature I started to help the summertime pass by so we can get back to hockey season.  There will be a new post with a new team posted whenever there is nothing else to talk about.

The rivalry I picked to kick things off is the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Truth be told there is no rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins despite the two teams being only four hours and basically two highways apart.  It seems that there is a natural geographic rivalry that is waiting to begin but hasn't been able to do it because of a lack of playoff history.  That being said these two teams have met in the playoffs and those are memories I wish I could forget.

You aren't really a Sabres fan if you don't remember Mario Lemieux scoring that back breaking goal in the waning moments of game six at The Igloo (I'm really not sure if it was Mellon Arena by then but it will always be the igloo to me).  The memories are even worse from there because Darius Kasparitis, yep Darius "friggin" Kasparitis scored on Dominic Hasek at the HSBC Arena in overtime of game seven and the Sabres went home for the season.  I'll never forget how mad I was when that goal was scored...the Sabres had the series wrapped up in Pittsburgh and they let it slip away, only to have Kasparitis put the nail in the coffin.

Frank from Pensburgh was kind enough to share his thoughts on this non-rivalry as well...

Penguins and Sabres.  Well, it's not the world's most blood-seething rivalry but they've certainly shared some history together.  The first thing that comes to mind when I think of these two teams matching up is not the Ice Bowl; as many would think.  In fact, I'm going to take it back to May 10, 2001.  In their third consecutive overtime game, winner heading to the Conference Championship, Buffalo and Pitt found themselves in the wrenches of a Game 7.  Notorious hard-hitting, but hardly a scoring, D-man Darius Kasparaitis launched a wrister from the right face-off circle in Buffalo's end to beat Hasek blocker-side for the game winner.  It isn't so much the goal that I remember, as much as it is the celebration afterwards when Darius belly-flopped onto the ice and slid towards the Penguins' goal.  In either case, Pitt went on to lose against NJ in the Conference Finals - so hey, no hard feelings guys.

 

 

 

Another great memory of mine that exists between these two teams is one of my fondest memories as a Penguins fan.  In the 92/93 season, Mario Lemieux missed two months after his diagnosis with Hodgkin's disease.  This was not only devastating on the level of mortality, but statistically speaking, Mario was on pace to annihilate Gretzky's record of 215 points.  Following treatment, Lemieux returned for a game against the Flyers only 12 points behind Lafontaine.  Pittsburgh won 17 straight, Lemieux averaged 2.67 points per game and wound up edging Lafontaine out by 12 points in the scoring race with a total of 160. 

And last but not least, our most recent venture together - The Ice Bowl.  I believe the fans of both teams developed a weird sense of camaraderie as both teams battled through the snow, ice and wind on New Year's Day.  Some would argue it possessed a storybook ending for the NHL, and I guess all I can say to that is "to each his own."  As I've been writing and blogging about the Penguins I've come to ignore such remarks (see also: Crosby dives, the NHL fixes Pittsburgh games and Bettman loves Crosby).  But you can't deny the excitement of the event, the attention for the sport and the overall exhibition of fans' love and commitment for a game that found them outside in whiteout conditions.

I'm sure there might be some more events between these two, but I put that into the hands of your trusty blogger D.O.

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