Penguins bounce back, shut out lowly Sabres
It wasn't pretty or artistic. But it might have been just what the Penguins needed.
Playing a conservative game, the Penguins methodically took care of business in a 3-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Marc-Andre Fleury earned the 27th shutout of his career and fourth this season. He stopped 24 shots.
“It wasn't a great performance, by any means,” center Brandon Sutter said of the Penguins' victory. “But it was better. A step in the right direction.”
Chris Kunitz, Deryk Engelland and Tanner Glass scored for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby added two assists and leads the NHL with 74 points.
While the Penguins were considerably better defensively — they entered the game allowing 30 goals in their previous nine games — they allowed several quality scoring chances in the third period. Fleury made a number of big saves.
“He was great tonight,” Sutter said. “He saved us a couple of times.”
Fleury stopped Matt Moulson on a breakaway, and made top-notch saves against Tyler Ennis and Brian Flynn.
“It felt good,” Fleury said. “Nobody panicked. Everyone played well tonight.”
Coach Dan Bylsma acknowledged that the Penguins “sat back” too much in the first 10 minutes of the third period.
There was nothing wrong with the Penguins' effort against the Sabres. Many players, notably Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, questioned the effort in recent outings.
Although it was hardly one of their better performances, the Penguins enjoyed a significant puck possession advantage. The first period saw both teams struggle to generate offense.
Buffalo controlled play early in the middle 20 minutes, but a couple of strong Fleury saves kept the game scoreless.
Crosby, who has a history of victimizing Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, was robbed on a backhand attempt. However, the Penguins corralled the rebound.
An instant later, Crosby froze Miller before finding Brian Gibbons by the far post. Gibbons' shot clanged off the post.
The rebound landed on the Kunitz's stick. He scored his 26th goal of the season.
The Penguins entered the game going more than a month without a goal from their third or fourth lines, with the exception of Sutter's empty-netter against the Islanders on Thursday.
Engelland, playing on the fourth line, received a pass from Glass and beat Miller to make the Penguins' lead 2-0.
It was all the scoring the Penguins would need.
“It was boring,” Glass said. “Silent in here. Boring for sure. But I think we did need that kind of game.”