Penguins let one slip away in loss to Buffalo
BUFFALO — The Penguins blew a big lead in Buffalo on Tuesday and weren't real thrilled with a couple of calls that made the difference.
Jay McKee was called for a penalty that turned the tide, and Craig Adams was whistled on a play that set up Jason Pominville's game-winner as the Sabres roared from behind to beat the Penguins, 4-3.
Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz scored for the Penguins, who have lost two in a row and visit New Jersey in a pivotal game tonight.
"I honestly thought we deserved a better fate tonight," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We did a lot of good things."
Up 3-0 in the second period, Buffalo was awarded a penalty shot when it was ruled McKee closed his hand on the puck in the goal crease. Drew Stafford, who had a three-point game after being a healthy scratch in Buffalo's previous outing, beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a low wrist shot to give the Sabres a surge of momentum.
McKee did not agree with the call.
"I didn't close my hand on the puck," McKee said. "Fleury looked at me and said, 'Good job.' Then I saw they were giving them a penalty shot. I saw the puck in front of the net, and I thought I'd take away a shooting lane. If you watch the replay, you see he shoveled it into my stomach. It's a gray area, I guess. I don't think it was a penalty. Definitely not a penalty shot."
Until that point, the Penguins had dominated Buffalo while taking a 3-0 lead. Staal scored his 11th goal of the season early in the first period, and Guerin added his 12th late in the opening 20 minutes to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
Crosby set up Kunitz's goal early in the second period to make it 3-0. The goal chased Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, who is expected to start for Team USA in the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Patrick Lalime, however, closed the door on his former squad, stopping all 27 shots he faced. The Penguins outshot Buffalo, 38-24.
"Lalime was really good," Penguins left wing Mike Rupp said. "No doubt, you could feel the momentum change when they scored on the penalty shot."
Stafford scored again after gathering his own rebound to pull Buffalo within 3-2 late in the second period.
The Sabres then dominated large portions of the final 20 minutes before Paul Gaustad took a feed from Stafford and beat Fleury to even the game with 12:32 left.
"We let the game get away in the first 10 minutes of the third period," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Only 2:37 after Gaustad tied the game, Craig Adams was assessed a boarding call for hitting Steve Montador from behind. Adams said he didn't believe he did anything wrong and argued the call vehemently on his way to the penalty box.
Pominville buried the game-winner on a wrist shot 50 seconds later.
"I asked the ref what I did wrong," Adams said. "He ignored me.
"I really didn't even hit him," he said. "And he didn't even hit the boards. I don't know how that was a penalty."
The Penguins, who have scored tying goals on a number of occasions late in games this season, didn't have any magic in Buffalo.
They must refocus quickly tonight.
"The good thing is that we don't go on too many losing streaks," Rupp said. "On the few occasions we've lost a couple in a row, we usually come back strong. That's exactly what we need to do against the Devils."