Pittsburgh Penguins fans saw something they haven’t seen in a while when the Penguins took on the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday: the return of one of their top two centers in Evgeni Malkin.
However, the Sabres would end up beating the Penguins 4-2 to end Pittsburgh’s seven-game winning streak at Consol Energy Center.
There was a lot of action in the first and Malkin got some point-blank chances but couldn’t get the puck past goaltender Ryan Miller. Even though he looked a little rusty it was great to see No. 71 out there skating through the Sabres defense.
It would be the Sabres striking first as Thomas Vanek scored his 19th of the year, giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead. The lead would be short lived, as it took the Penguins just 20 seconds to tie the game.
Chris Kunitz fired the puck on net and Miller fanned on the glove save, allowing the puck to sneak behind him. The goal was Kunitz’s 22nd of the year.
The second period was up-and-down action with hard hitting on each end. Neither team was able to score, but both teams had great chances. Both Miller and Marc-Andre Fleury were phenomenal for their respective teams.
The Penguins had a golden opportunity to take the lead as they had back-to-back power plays but were unable to score. It was the Sabres gaining the momentum from the penalty kill and getting the next goal. Jochen Hecht gave the Sabres the lead, scoring his fifth of the season on a one-timer.
But the Pens would not waste their third power play as Jarome Iginla one-timed Kris Letang’s pass behind Miller for his 14th of the season. With his goal tonight, Iginla has now scored in four straight games.
Steve Ott gave the Sabres the lead for good with about 2:30 left, but it wasn’t without controversy. It appeared to be knocked in with a high stick, but after the refs reviewed the play it was upheld.
Vanek polished off the Buffalo victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute, giving the Sabres their second win in Pittsburgh this month.
Their win streak snapped, the Penguins (35-11-0, 70 points) have two games left in the regular season. They travel to New Jersey for a Thursday night contest before finishing the year at home against Carolina on Saturday.