Sabres Debut Reverse Retro Jerseys in 6-3 Win over Penguins
Pittsburgh came in hot, but fizzled after a glorious third period for the home team
Score: Sabres 6 | Penguins 3
Shots: BUF 33 | PIT 21
Buffalo Sabres Goals: JJ Peterka (3), Tage Thompson (7-PP), Victor Olofsson (7, 8-EN), Alex Tuch (7), Kyle Okposo (1-EN)
Pittsburgh Penguins Goals: Jason Zucker (2), Josh Archibald (3), Jake Guentzel (5-PP)
Minus 1: Struggling Pens Strike First and Second
It looked as though the home team was off to a great start with a pretty impressive amount of pressure in the offensive zone. During the first six minutes of the opening period, it was all Sabres - they especially dominated in speed. However, after a quick turnover from Zemgus Girgensons, a three-on-one opportunity ended in Pittsburgh’s favor to give them their first lead of the game. It was Evgeni Malkin’s pass across the ice that led to Jason Zucker’s rocket of a slapshot that made it 1-0.
During the latter half of the first period, there were plenty of scoring opportunities for Buffalo - specifically by Alex Tuch and then Victor Olofsson later on - but they simply could not capitalize as they entered the first intermission with a big old goose egg.
Then, the second period began similarly to the first - except with a sloppier version of the Sabres. At almost the same time of the period as the first period goal, Pittsburgh found the back of the net yet again to widen the lead to two goals.
Plus 1: Peterka!
Watching JJ Peterka play during these first few games of the season has been nothing short of fun and tonight was no exception. If you blinked at the wrong time, you honestly could have easily missed it - that is how fast it was. With some nice work by Peyton Krebs and Rasmus Asplund (serving as pesky distractions in front of the net), Peterka’s wrister was a thing of beauty as the Sabres finally found themselves on the scoreboard with just over a minute remaining in the second period.
Minus 2: Eight Seconds
Mere seconds into the third period (eight to be exact) following Sidney Crosby’s faceoff win, veteran defenseman Kris LeTang’s long pass through the neutral zone all the way to the Sabres’ end gave Jake Guentzel an almost too-easy opportunity to snatch back the two-goal lead. Guentzel’s goal was the fourth fastest scored at the start of a period in Penguins history.
Plus 2: Third Period Dominance
Following a tripping penalty on Pittsburgh, the Sabres were finally given some space to try and turn this game around. Rasmus Dahlin (who is having an elite year so far) fed the puck neatly to Tage Thompson who let a one-timer rip to a wide open net, making it 3-2. Thompson now has 11 points (including his assist to Tuch tonight...more on that later) in the last three games, making him the first Sabre with this stat since Maxim Afinogenov during the 2006-2007 season. Thank you, Tommer!
The third period fun was only beginning, though, as Victor Olofsson - always ready in his favorite spot to the left of the opposing goaltender - took advantage of yet another wide open net after Owen Power faked a shot to even up the score 3-3. As ABBA blared through KeyBank Arena’s speakers, the home team found some pep in their step as the momentum clearly shifted. Thompson and Olofsson’s goals came in a span of just three minutes and eight seconds.
The Sabres’ fourth goal, scored by Tuch, came halfway through the final 20 with assists by Jeff Skinner and Thompson to give their team the first lead of the game.
Kyle Okposo later scored an empty netter spin-o-rama, which would not have been possible without the hustle of Girgensons to keep his team from icing the puck.
The final goal (and fifth unanswered) was executed by Olofsson thanks to a nice pass from Power.
Overall, it was a game of experience versus youth with the Pens being the second oldest team in the league with an average age of almost 30 and the Sabres being the fourth youngest team with an average age of 26. Tonight, the youth prevailed. Though the first and second periods were some what regrettable for Buffalo, they brought an abundance of action in the third period and boy, was it fun to watch. After tonight’s game, the Sabres are now the only team in the NHL to have three players with seven goals (Thompson, Olofsson, and Tuch, respectively) and are currently tied for first in the NHL for outscoring their opponents in the third period 18-7.
The blue and gold team of years’ past may have blew it after failing to score first, but not this team. It has been easy as a fan to give up or feel pessimistic after many consecutive seasons full of disappointment, but this group is a good one and we should all look forward (albeit maybe cautiously) to the season ahead.
1. Tage Thompson (1G, 1A)
2. Alex Tuch (1G, +1)
3. Owen Power (2A, +3)