Thomas Vanek scored two goals and Ryan Miller made 40 saves leading the Buffalo Sabres (20-21-6, 46 pts) to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins (35-11-0, 70 pts) on Tuesday night. The loss snapped the Penguins seven game winning streak who failed to climb within one point of the Chicago Blackhawks for the NHL lead in points.
Jarome Iginla (14) and Chris Kunitz (22) scored for the Penguins in the loss. Iginla who is peaking heading into the playoffs,has goals in four consecutive games and led the Penguins with 8 shots on goal.
Marc Andre Fleury made 29 saves and saw his 13 game home winning streak snapped.
Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup and logged 21:18 of ice time, picking up an assist on Iginla’s third period power play blast to tie the game at 2-2.
Malkin was flying around the ice from the drop of the puck in an encouraging game from him, and also had a strong night in the faceoff circle, winning a team-high 11 faceoffs and going 61% on draws.
Malkin centered Jarome Iginla and Pascal Dupuis on the top line for much of the game.
“Thought he looked great,” Iginla said of Malkin. “He was flying. Created something almost every shift. Could have had four or five tonight. Fun to see him back out there.”
“I thought he played with a lot of jump, lot of jam in his game,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said of Malkin.
The other lines Penguins went with was a second line of Chris Kunitz – Brandon Sutter – Matt Cooke, third line of Brenden Morrow – Jussi Jokinen – Beau Bennett, and Tanner Glass – Dustin Jeffrey – Craig Adams on the fourth line.
Joe Vitale, Tyler Kennedy and Steve MacIntyre were healthy scratches upfront. On the blueline, Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo were healthy scratches but the Penguins were shorthanded for much of the game after Brooks Orpik suffered a lower body injury in the first period and only played 6:44.
“Brooks Orpik left after playing five minutes in first period, lower body injury and being re-evaluated,” Bylsma said. Bylsma wouldn’t speculate on if Orpik could have returned if tonight wasn’t a meaningless game. “I don’t want to speculate on whether that was the case or not,” Bylsma said.
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS
1. Pittsburgh Penguins | 46 GP – 70 Pts |
2. Boston Bruins | 45 GP – 59 Pts |
3. Washington Capitals | 46 GP – 54 Pts |
4. Montreal Canadiens | 46 GP – 59 Pts |
5. Toronto Maple Leafs | 45 GP – 55 Pts |
6. New York Islanders | 46 GP – 54 Pts |
7. Ottawa Senators | 45 GP – 52 Pts |
8. New York Rangers | 46 GP – 52 Pts |
9. Winnipeg Jets | 47 GP – 51 Pts