The Buffalo Sabres, sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference Standings, are playing with nothing to lose. Within the last week, they have sent 3 players to other teams and simply put, no one is safe. With the dismal season coming to an end in a few short weeks, all that’s left is to play a game they love to play and hope that it all works out in the end.
They came into Pittsburgh Tuesday night trailing the 8th place team by 5 points. While there is still a slim chance to make the playoffs, this team is focusing on winning games and rebuilding the team in order to make a long run in the future. Pittsburgh sits on top of the conference, and trail Chicago by only one point for the overall lead, with 56 points. They have won 15 straight games and 18 of their last 20 and five points ahead of the second place team. The streak, however, cannot last forever, just ask Chicago.
The Sabres came out on fire, with all players worrying about losing their jobs by the Wednesday trade deadline and snapped the Penguins 15 game streak with a 4-1 win. The Penguins would also be playing their first full game without star Sidney Crosby who was knocked out of the last game against the Islanders by a puck to the face and will be out indefinitely.
Ryan Miller, even amidst trade rumors, got the start in net for Buffalo and Thomas Vokoun got the nod for Pittsburgh. The Sabres were able to get on the board first at the halfway mark of the first with a nice wrist shot by Kevin Porter, his first of his short season with Buffalo. Pittsburgh would answer just 3 minutes later with a wrist shot from the newly acquired Jarome Iginla, his first as a Penguin. The Sabres would not let the first period end in a tie as the scored with only two minutes left to make it 2-1.
The second period, famously known around Buffalo as the worst period for the Sabres, would see two goals in the first three and a half minutes. Cody Hodgson would get a nice wrap around goal with Vokoun being stuck out of the net. Porter would get his second of the night with a quick wrist shot that bounced off a Penguin player and past Vokoun.
Into the game comes Marc Andre Fleury for the Penguins, who hasn’t played since March 26, due to an upper body injury. Fleury was solid in net for the rest of the game not allowing any more Buffalo goals. Miller would also stay strong for the remainder of the game not allowing any more Pittsburgh goals to help his team break their own four game losing streak.
The next game for Pittsburgh will be against the New York Rangers, in New York, and Buffalo will get a few days off before playing the Ottawa Senators in Buffalo on Friday.