PENGUINS STREAK ENDS
The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-9-0, 56 pts) run at the NHL record winning streak of 17 will fall short as the Buffalo Sabres (14-17-6, 34 pts) came into Consol Energy Center and halted the Penguins 15 game winning streak with an impressive 4-1 win over the Penguins on Tuesday night.
Kevin Porter scored twice and Steve Ott, Cody Hodgson also scored for the Sabres who won for the first time in five games. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 19 saves to record the win. The victory was just Miller’s second in his last 11 games vs Pittsburgh.
Leading 2-1 after one period, Buffalo broke the game wide open, scoring twice in the first 3:28 of the second period ending Tomas Vokoun’s night who was pulled after giving up 4 goals on 13 shots. Marc Andre Fleury came in relief and stopped all 16 shots.
Jarome Iginla scored the Penguins lone goal, a power play marker at 13:27 of the first period. Pittsburgh next plays Wednesday night against the New York Rangers at MSG. The Rangers are ninth in the conference with 37 points.
POST-GAME THOUGHTS (5)
1. When the Penguins lose, they are usually games that are not close and tonight was no different. In eight of the Penguins nine of losses this season, they have lost by two goals or more. Tonight the Penguins were slow to the puck, plagued by turnovers and got suspect goaltending from Tomas Vokoun. “Obviously I don’t think it was our best performance tonight,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
2. Jarome Iginla was one of the Penguins few bright spots tonight as was Douglas Murray who logged 18:58 of ice time, registering a team-high 5 hits and 4 blocked shots.
As for Iginla, he was really feeling it in the first period and you could tell a goal was coming which did at the 13:28 mark. Bylsma again liked what he saw from the Neal-Malkin-Iginla line and Malkin seems to have a good feel of the spots Iginla is going to be at in the offensive zone, although he was forcing the puck to Iginla a bit too much on the power play. They are reading each other well at 5-on-5.
“I thought they were our most effective line 5-on-5,” Bylsma said of Neal-Malkin-Iginla. “They looked pretty comfortable on the ice together.” Bylsma said the only area where the group didn’t look real comfortable was on the breakout, which isn’t surprising.
Iginla talked of the Penguins impressive streak coming to an end.
“It’s a disappointing feeling now, guys worked so hard on the streak,” Iginla said of the loss. “Just wanted to come in and got a taste of that and very impressive of what they accomplished. It’s a tough feeling tonight, you wanted to keep that going but at same time very impressive of what they accomplished for the whole month.”
3. You never had the feeling that the Penguins were going to mount a comeback tonight as this is a different team without Sidney Crosby but players including head coach Dan Bylsma cited the team taking too many penalties as killing any chance of the Penguins getting back in the game. “When you have several in a row it can drain you a bit,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said of the Penguins undisciplined play. Niskanen had a tough night himself with a brutal turnover on Kevin Porter’s first period goal.
4. Mark Eaton is a player to keep an eye on down the stretch on whether he starts to show his age. The Penguins had previously been monitoring his workload and giving him a night off every once in a while when this group was healthy and I thought tonight he looked very old and slow. Eaton was a minus-2 and he could maybe use a game off tomorrow night vs the Rangers. Even if it’s not Eaton, it’s reached the point where Robert Bortuzzo deserves to get back in the lineup. Bortuzzo was awful against the Hurricanes on Feb 28 but everyone has bad nights. He shouldn’t be sitting this long.
5. The Tyler Kennedy experiment at center with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz has to end doesn’t it? Kennedy, as expected, showed he’s just not a fit in that spot and he’s not going to be at any point. That said, it remains to be seen if Bylsma is ready to pull the plug after one game. “I thought they were okay, decent,” Bylsma said of the Kennedy line. Meanwhile, one player who stepped up in the faceoff circle was Dustin Jeffrey who won seven of 10 draws.
DEADLINE BUZZ: HECHT A FIT IN PITTSBURGH?
Although the Penguins have been considering depth options, including a 4th line center, I’ve yet to hear much chatter regarding Sabres center Jochen Hecht and the Penguins. Hecht, though, really caught my eye tonight.
He can skate, has some skill and is at the point of his career where he plays a defensive responsible game. With the Penguins now having a need for a left handed centerman, Hecht could suddenly be worth a look at a low price. I’m checking around on if there’s anything there regarding possible interest from the Penguins.
Hecht was 10 of 17 on draws and logged 3:04 of ice time shorthanded vs the Penguins. Hecht had 21 goals in 2009-2010.