Conor Sheary scores twice, including winner, as Penguins lose in OT
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ inability to win games in overtime just might cost them a spot in the playoffs.
Former Penguins winger Conor Sheary scored his second goal of the game with 48.2 seconds left in overtime, leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-3 victory Friday night.
The Penguins are 4-7 in overtime this season, and they’re struggling to keep pace in the race for the final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.
They’re tied for the eighth spot with Columbus, one point behind Carolina and two points behind Montreal, their opponent Saturday night.
“It’s frustrating for sure that we let a point get away because it was there to be had,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought for most of the night, we were the better team.”
Seconds before Sheary ended the game, the Penguins had two five-star scoring chances at the other end of the ice.
First, Marcus Pettersson had a two-on-one down low with Phil Kessel.
Goalie Linus Ullmark read Pettersson’s pass and stymied Kessel’s efforts to get the puck on net at the right post.
“I should have shot that puck myself,” Pettersson said. “I thought he was going to come out at me, and I saw Phil. He read that too well. I gotta shoot that.”
Shortly thereafter, Kessel centered to Malkin near the left hash marks. His shot rang off the post.
“I think we have great chance to score,” Malkin said. “I shoot to the post. I hope next game a little bit luck for us.”
When Buffalo counter-attacked, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin battled with Pettersson as he crossed the blue line well ahead of the puck. Officials ruled, after a subsequent video review, that Dahlin maintained control of the puck all along, and therefore couldn’t be offside.
Eventually, the puck came to Pettersson in the right-wing corner. His pass intended for Malkin on the wall hopped out to Sheary, who was coming off the bench. He drifted toward the left faceoff circle and beat goalie Matt Murray high to the blocker side.
“That last play, I kind of put Geno in a little bit of a bad spot,” Pettersson said. “I tried to give him the puck, and it bounced away from him. They got fresh legs on.”
The Penguins were in overtime in the first place because they blew a third-period lead for the second time in the last three games.
This time, with 2:32 to play, Brandon Montour took a wrister from the blue line that took a deflection off Sheary and Pettersson, who were battling in front of the net, and tied the score 3-3.
“That’s just how it goes sometimes,” Murray said. “They get a weird bounce off a guy’s ankle in front to tie it up.”
In general, the Penguins didn’t play a poorly. They outshot the Sabres, 44-30. They held a 54-29 advantage in even-strength shot attempts.
The power play got going, scoring twice in 63 seconds late in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Patric Hornqvist got the first of the power-play goals, snapping a 17-game drought. Crosby got the second on a twisting, knee-drop one-timer.
They’re weeks past the point, however, where not playing poorly is good enough.
“I think, for two periods, we pushed hard and we kept attacking,” Pettersson said. “But we’ve got to make sure we win these games. There’s not a lot of games left.”
Eighteen, to be exact. Time is running out.
“Locker room is fine. We’re together,” Malkin said. “We support each other. Heads up. It’s not easy. Every game is tough, but we win next game and look forward.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .