Enough talk. I've written a ton of words already yesterday and today about this Sabres-Penguins matchup. It's time to see if the Pittsburgh winning streak gets to 12 games or if the Sabres get their signature victory of the season. The Sabres have been playing much better of late, of course, and certainly have a legitimate chance. They were the better team in the last meeting, a 1-0 win by the Pens on Nov. 24 stolen by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"We understand they're on a streak, a real tear," Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold told me yesterday. "But we look at what we've done the last five or six games and we've been playing well. We dug into our system, got our chances and scored on chances. We have to continue to do that and not worry about what they've done."
Let's not forget the Sidney Crosby streak either. Seventeen games and 35 points. Amazing.
"You just have to do the best you can taking his time and space away," said Tyler Myers. "As good as he is, he's going to make plays. You're just going to have to accept that. You try to contain a guy like that more than lunge at him."
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Roy-Vanek-Sekera-Myers. Goal: Miller.
Penguins starters (total all-star version): Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis-Orpik-Letang. Goal: Fleury.
Of note: Fleury has stopped 55 of 56 shots in two meetings with Buffalo this year. Stopped all 30 in posting shutout on Nov. 24. ... Leopold/Montador an uncharacteristic minus-2 tonight. Grier (5) and Ennis (4) lead Sabres in shots. Penguins 24-11 on faceoffs. AP's Mike Haim notes Crosby has at least one point in all nine career games in HSBC (he has 24 points in 19 career games vs. Buffalo). No points for him yet tonight -- that 17-game point streak is in jeopardy.
19:36 left: Crosby down again early on hit from Myers and Orpik goes for interference on McCormick. Pretty good elbow from behind into the glass.
17:58 left: Pominville hits Talbot, who was ducking. Slow to leave the ice. Cooke tries to engage Pominville again. No call. Could have been.
16:12 left: Pominville over passes when he had a point-blank shot. Dude has three goals. Better shoot at some point.
13:09 left: Vanek for high sticking. Shots are 3-3 in this period. Tight, tight checking.
10:30 left: Pens are oddly terrible on the PP. They're 0-4 tonight with just three shots.
10:00 left: Shots are 4-3 for Sabres. Pens seem happy to just run the clock out. Easiest prediction of the night: Crosby will have no trouble losing his streak if his team's continues.
8:57 left: Gerbe and Letang for slashing. Gerbe's a tap. Letang's a Johnny Appleseed whack. But counts the same.
7:57 left: Leopold stopped on great Vanek feed as Sabres dominate 4-on-4.
7:51 left: Dupuis tips in Goligoski's shot from the left, getting in front of Leopold to give Pens huge insurance goal at 3-1. Looked like assist from Crosby from the right boards to Goligoski.
7:00 left: Hold on. Pominville slapper stopped but he gets his own rebound, pulls it around Fleury and flips it in to get Sabres within 3-2. Two games in a row with a goal for No. 29.
6:15 left: Pens goal goes to Goligoski. Apparently went in off Leopold, who has not had a good night. And Crosby does get an assist to put his point streak to 18.
3:17 left: Terrible weak plays on the puck along the wall by a couple Sabres, notably Kaleta and Hecht, leads to a jam-in from in front by Mike Rupp. Pens lead, 4-2. No. 12 is close at hand.
2:25 left: Shots are 9-9 in this period and 35-22 for the game. Didn't like goals two or four on Miller. Fleury has been the best player on the ice tonight.
1:26 left: Timeout by Sabres with Miller out. Shots are 37-23.
42.6 left: Cooke with the empty net makes it 5-2 Pens. The streak will go to 12 .
It's over: A 5-2 loss. Final shots were 36-24 (change in Sabres total)
8:06 p.m.: We're under way.
19:36 left: Crosby's first shot, a backhand from slot, stopped by Miller.
18:43 left: Vanek and Roy just fail to connect. Too much passing.
16:10 left: Nice pad save by Miller on Letang, who worked through four Sabres to get off a good shot. Looked like Daniel Alfredsson on that OT winner in the '07 playoffs. Someone take him out!
13:46 left: Fleury nailed for high sticking. Letang should have gotten something too for mugging Roy. Pens lucky there.
13:00 left: Adam flubs a one-timer as he's open in the right circle. Rolling puck. Too bad.
11:58 left: Pominville high and wide from nearly same spot as Adam. Great cross-ice feed from Vanek.
10:26 left: Montador for slashing Crosby, who shoots high over top on a breakaway. Had LOTS of open net above Miller.
9:41 left: Letestu's tip-in hits the post on a Crosby feed.
8:47 left: Miller stops Crosby streaking through the right circle. No. 87 heating up this period.
8:13 left: Crosby, who is getting openly cranky, gets into it with Pittsburgh native Weber and Kunitz races across the ice to jump in. Looks like Weber gets and extra two minutes. Crosby gets roughing while Weber gets a double minor. I could make the case Crosby could have gotten nothing and Kunitz could have gotten two.
5:45 left: Sabres have done the job on the PK tonight. Pens not very dangerous and oddly enough they're only 15th in the NHL on the season. Shots are 7-5 for Buffalo in this period.
End-2nd: Still 2-1. Shots were 12-5 for Buffalo and 26-13 through two. Interesting scene at the end of the period as several Pens were chirping in Weber's ear for the Crosby situation. Several Sabres on the ice chirping back and neither team would leave first even as the officials were trying to make them go. Montador one of the most vocal Sabres.
7:08 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
19:48 left: Sekera for tripping Dupuis at center ice. Not the way to start.
17:36 left: Solid job on the PK as the Pens get just one shot and have no real pressure. Kaleta killed the final 15 seconds and Montador got a good shot on Fleury just as Sekera returned.
16:10 left: Vanek fails to connect as the puck dribbles off his stick right on the edge of the crease, when it would have just been a tap-in.
15:23 left: Fleury at it again, robbing Grier with the left toe. More good work by the McCormick-Gaustad-Grier line. Shots 4-1 for Buffalo.
15:10 left: Fleury robs Hecht and then Tyler Kennedy rips one past Miller and off the crossbar. Great action.
13:15 left: Dustin Jeffrey in his first game of the season outworks Leopold in front to tap Ben Lovejoy's pass past Miller. Pens lead, 1-0. Play under review. Goal stands. Second goal of Jeffrey's career (had one in 08-09).
11:20 left: Sabres suddenly in scramble mode. Mark Letestu had Miller down on a rebound but looked like he hit the outside of the post.
10:29 left: The scramble continues. Roy with a terrible giveaway to Maxime Talbot and Arron Asham blows one by Miller off the Talbot pass to make it 2-0 Pens. And Crosby wasn't involved with either goal. Two goals on six shots.
9:07 left: Lovejoy goes for hooking. Myers and Pominville just failed to connect as the Sabres had good pressure with Miller out on the delayed penalty situation. Shots are 9-6 for Buffalo.
7:07 left: Shots still 9-6. A nothing power play.
5:50 left: A huge "Let's Go Pens" chant goes up. The boos try to take it over. Remember, Pittsburgh fans took over the building in Columbus last week.
5:15 left: Craig Adams goes for tripping after a rugged shot of Vanek near the boards that looked sort of like a bit of a lep whip. Montador didn't like that one but resisted a mugging to keep the power play.
4:37 left: Dupuis for hooking Pominville in the slot. Iffy call. Two-man advantage for 1:22.
4:11 left: Sabres using five forwards and Ennis puts it in to make it 2-1. Own rebound shot just under the bar. Things break out as Gaustad and Orpik go at it and start wrestling and then Pominville -- yes, Pominville -- and Cooke start swinging for real. Ennis from Roy and Vanek. Penalties were two apiece for Orpik-Gaustad and five for Pominville-Cooke.
1:16 left: There's a healthy nastiness to this one. Lots of pushing and stickwork. Ennis goal huge to get Sabres back in it. Shots are 14-8 for Buffalo. Fleury has been the star of the period. Crosby a non-factor thus far. You figure, however, that won't last.
End-1st: Pens lead, 2-1. Shots remain 14-8.