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Sabres Notebook: Pittsburgh fails to capitalize

Sidney Crosby described it as one of those games that got away.

The Pittsburgh Penguins fired 47 shots on goal while their netminder, backup Marc-Andre Fleury, made a series of spectacular saves in overtime. The Pens controlled zone time and their penalty kill kicked it into high gear when it was needed.

The only thing missing were goals.

The Penguins back-to-back games in New York State went back-to-back overtime. After an OT win against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Friday, they came up short in a 2-1 shoot out loss to the Buffalo Sabres in KeyBank Center Saturday night.

"It was just one of those games where you leave feeling like you deserve better but ultimately we’ve got to find a way to bury a few chances," said Crosby, who scored the Pens' lone goal on the power play in the third period. "I thought we created a number of them, especially in the third.

"We’ve got to work hard in those areas to find rebounds and when we get the chances we’ve got to find a way to put them in but tonight I think it wasn’t lack of effort."

It was an interesting end to a three-game road trip for the Penguins which started with a 7-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, the worst loss under coach Mike Sullivan. They rebounded with a 3-2 overtime win, their first win in OT this season, against the Islanders.

Then came the game in Buffalo where everything went right except the puck going into the net.

"Obviously when you generate close to 50 shots you hope that you’d score more than one goal," Sullivan said.

"You try to control the process. You try to play the game the right way. Some nights you score and some nights you don’t. I thought our guys stuck with it. They played hard throughout the course of the game. Our power play gets a big goal for us to get us to the overtime and we had plenty of opportunities to score; it just didn't go in for us."

Crosby's power play goal got the Penguins to overtime but it was Fleury who got the team to the shootout. He made six saves in overtime, nearly all of them highlight-reel material.

"You never know what to expect," Fleury said of overtime. "There’s a lot of room, a lot of time for the guys. Just try to focus on the shooter and our guys came back to help out.

"It is harder because every shot feels like they have a good scoring chance. They’ve got more time, more room to make plays and also it makes it a little tougher."

Tougher, too, for Fleury who made his first start since Nov. 10 when he made 40 saves in a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. He came into the game with seven straight wins against the Sabres, including three shutouts, allowing six goals against in 420 minutes.

But it took him a few shots in the game to find his groove as he figures out how to be an effective back-up.

"It felt better as the game went on," Fleury said. "I haven’t played much and also it’s good to go in and get a few shots early. I felt better as the game went on."

"It’s a little bit of a different mindset going into games," Fleury said of the sporadic starts, "but it’s the way it is and I’ve got to find ways to be ready to be sharp and help my team win games."


Cal O’Reilly earned his first call-up of the season after leading the American Hockey League in scoring with 18 points. He played 12:38 centering Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson while playing 2:40 on the power play.

O'Reilly scored the shootout winner improving to 6-for-13 (46.2 percent) in his NHL career including three game-deciding goals.

While others have made their way on the I-90 shuttle between Rochester and Buffalo, O'Reilly knew he just needed to be patient.

"Just being patient," O'Reilly said before Saturday's game. "If the call came, great. If not it's really out of my control. I'm just trying to play well and lead that team down there."

The 30-year-old O'Reilly is the older brother of Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly who will miss his fourth game with an oblique injury and Cal said it's been a trying time for Ryan.

"He misses the games. He takes it hard,"Cal said of his brother, Ryan. "He hasn't missed many games in his career so he hasn't really gone through something like this. I think it's been really tough on him but he knows he's got to get that healthy before he comes back so it doesn't keep flaring up on him. Obviously they really miss him here. He's a key player for them."


Patric Hornqvist remained out of the Penguins lineup with a concussion. The forward sustained the injury during the Pen’s 7-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. He had five goals and 13 points in 16 games this season.


Sabres coach Dan Bylsma and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan share status in an elite club – they are among the four coaches to lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship. Pittsburgh is the first team of the four major professional sports leagues (NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA) to win its first four championships with four different head coaches – Bob Johnson in 1991, Scotty Bowman in 1992, Bylsma in 2009 and Sullivan in 2016.

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