Penguins vs. Sabres Recap: Sabres Lose Ground In Playoff Race

Mar 30, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Derek Roy (9) gets called for hooking on Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) during the second period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

All of the momentum the Sabres generated with their win over the Washington Capitals was immediately lost after they lost to the Penguins 5-3 on Friday night. The Sabres are again tied with the Capitals for eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left in the schedule and Washington holds the tiebreaker.

The Penguins got the scoring started early with an Evgeni Malkin power play goal in the first three minutes of the game. The power play came on a Drew Stafford tripping penalty. The Penguins power play would be one of the stories of the game as they converted twice on their three chances. The Sabres would tie the game up for the first time three minutes later with a Jordan Leopold goal. Leopold was able to find a loose puck in a scrum in front of the net and jammed it past Brent Johnson.

The Penguins would regain the lead six minutes later on Sidney Crosby goal that Ryan Miller would be wishing he had back:

It wouldn't be the first terrible goal of the game as Brent Johnson would return the favor just three minutes later as Tyler Ennis found was able to get the puck past the Penguins netminder. The Sabres were outshot 11-10 in the period and it looked like the Penguins were going to be the more dominant team in the game.

Follow the jump for more game discussion.

The second period had Pittsburgh take the lead for good at the 11:43 mark in the period. James Neal scored the Penguins second power play goal on a nifty tic-tac-toe goal between he, Crosby, and Malkin. Ryan Miller just had no chance on the goal as the puck quickly moved from one side of the ice to the other which caught the goaltender moving. The Penguins would get their second goal of the period four minutes later as Steve Sullivan scored on a goal that just changed directions on Miller in front of the net.

The Sabres would bring the game to within one goal two minutes later on a lucky bounce off the stanchion that fell right to Thomas Vanek in front of the net. Vanek would outdeke Johnson for the goal and that would be the last time the Sabres found the back of the net. The Penguins would get an empty net goal from Jordan Staal in the final minute of the third period to ice the game.The Sabres were outshot 23-18 in the final two periods and the Penguins just looked like the dominant team in the final two periods.

Ryan Miller had a night he would probably like to forget as he allowed four goals on 33 shots and just didn't look fully comfortable in net for most of the night. He did settle down in the third period and made some good saves there, but at that point it was just too little, too late. At the opposite end of the ice, Brent Johnson looked just as shaky in his return as he allowed three goals on 28 shots, but the Penguins were able to keep most of the chances to the outside for him to get cleaner looks.

The Sabres will try and put this game past them as they face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. The Senators and Capitals are both in action as well as the Senators face the Flyers in Philadelphia and the Capitals face the Canadiens in Montreal.

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