It takes more than one goal to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins. The way things are going for the Sabres, they were fortunate to get one.
Buffalo's scoring slump continued Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Penguins. The Sabres have scored just six goals in the past five games – and four have come on the power play.
Buffalo failed to connect on its only power-play chance in KeyBank Center. The Sabres lost for the first time in three games, while Pittsburgh moved to 8-1-1 in the last 10.
Tossed: The referees ejected Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen just 8:46 into the game. His hit on Jake Guentzel drew a five-minute interference major and a game misconduct. It could draw additional attention from the player safety department.
The Penguins were trying to clear their zone, and Guentzel got past the blue line. The puck didn’t. As the forward skated forward but looked backward, Ristolainen closed in. The defenseman did a 180-degree turn and crushed the defenseless Guentzel with his back.
The whiplashed rookie fell to the ice, and he punch-drunkenly crashed again after trying to get up.
Sid ends “slump”: Sidney Crosby’s skid of games without a point against Buffalo ended at a whopping one. The Pittsburgh captain put up a candidate for goal of the year.
Crosby took off from his own zone with the Penguins on the power play, blew past Ryan O’Reilly at the Buffalo blue line and split the defensive pairing of Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges. With only his right hand on his stick, Crosby lifted the backhander over the glove of goaltender Robin Lehner.
The opening goal with 8.2 seconds left in the first gave Crosby 16 goals and 51 points in 34 games versus Buffalo.
Off the block: Sam Reinhart's first attempt was blocked by Mark Streit, but the Sabres center got the puck right back. He made it count, scoring from a bad angle near the goal line to make it 1-1 with 2:09 gone in the third period.
Reinhart's second goal in 10 games gave him 17 for the season. Hudson Fasching earned an assist, the winger's first point in 10 games this season.
Taking lead back: The Penguins scored the winner on a busted play in the left circle. Nick Bonino pounced on a loose puck and shot through traffic with 5:29 remaining.
Oops: Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons put the game out of reach by burying a rebound into his own net. Lehner stopped a shot by Sheary, with the rebound going to the slot. Girgensons sent it back to the open net, making it 3-1 with 3:31 to play.
Saving grace: Lehner was the Sabres' best player, and he proved it from the opening minute. He stopped Conor Sheary on a breakaway, and it was just the first of several big stops on solo and odd-man rushes.
The Penguins outshot the Sabres, 12-6, during the second period. Lehner stopped them all to keep Buffalo in just a 1-0 hole.
Ouch: The television cameras caught a play by Crosby that won’t go on his highlight reel. Crosby skated behind O’Reilly, put his stick between the center’s legs and quickly lifted it. Not surprisingly, O’Reilly dropped to the ice.
The fans booed Crosby after Evander Kane caught him with a high-stick with 1:25 left. Kane got four minutes in the box.
Killers, indeed: The Sabres easily thwarted the Penguins during Ristolainen’s five-minute major. The penalty killers allowed just two shots.
Minute man: With Ristolainen out, Bogosian picked up the load of the ice time. He had 21:05 through two periods.
Hurting: There was a lot of star power on the sidelines. Pittsburgh played without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley and Ron Hainsey. Buffalo was again lacking Kyle Okposo, Cody Franson, Dmitry Kulikov, Taylor Fedun, William Carrier and Justin Falk.
Championship visit: The Buffalo Beauts, who won the National Women’s Hockey League title Sunday, set up an autograph table in the 100 Level concourse and posed for pictures with the Isobel Cup.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced a crowd of 18,313 for the last of two visits by the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Next: The Sabres have entered an on-again, off-again part of their schedule. They have three days off, followed by three games in four nights. They then have four days off, followed by three games in four nights. The game sequence starts Saturday when Toronto comes to Buffalo.