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Vanek – Hodgson – Pominville
Foligno – Ennis – Stafford
Leino – Ott – Gerbe
Ellis – McCormick – Kaleta
Regehr – Myers
Ehrhoff – Leopold
Sekera – Weber
(BUFFALO, NY) Ryan Miller stopped 44 of 46 shots to push the Sabres to a 4-2 victory over the Penguins in the season opener at First Niagara Center.
Captain Jason Pominville tallied 2 goals and an assist for Buffalo, which built a 4-0 lead and then survived a third period Pittsburgh rally.
Buffalo opened scoring with Pittsburgh forward Brandon Sutter in the penalty box. Christian Erhoff’s shot from the point got through to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Pominville pounced on the rebound to convert the Sabres’ first power play opportunity of the season and take a 1-0 lead at 3:10 of the first period.
Just before the 8 minute mark of the first, Pominville found himself facing a gaping net after a Robyn Regehr shot bounced directly onto his stick off of Thomas Vanek. The Sabres’ captain converted for his second of the night and gave Buffalo a 2-0 lead.
The Penguins had a chance to get right back in it when Ville Leino was assessed a double minor for high sticking in the waning seconds of the first. But special teams came through again, not only killing off the four minute penalty, but adding to the lead when Nathan Gerbe intercepted a sloppy Matt Niskanen pass in the Penguins end and wristed it past Fleury for a shorthanded tally in the first minute of the second period.
Buffalo would make it 4-0 with another power play goal late in period two. With Niskanen in the box, Cody Hodgson grabbed a rebound, outworked Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik, and lifted a quick shot over the outstretched glove of Fleury.
Pittsburgh would not go quietly but Ryan Miller was the star of the third period, turning away 20 of the 22 shots he faced in that frame alone. The Pens broke through for their first of the night at the 9:01 mark when Tyler Kennedy’s wrist shot from the faceoff circle trickled through Miller’s legs. Sidney Crosby kept the rally going, beating Christian Erhoff out of the corner and banging home the rebound of his own initial shot at 12:33.
Miller shut the Penguins down after that, with several critical stops including a pair on point blank chances from Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz.
The Sabres host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
BUF 3:10 – J. Pominville (1), (Unassisted)
BUF 7:39 – J. Pominville (2), (T. Vanek, R. Regehr)
BUF 0:48 N. Gerbe (1), (Unassisted)
BUF 14:27 C. Hodgson (1) (T. Vanek, J. Pominville)
PIT 9:01 T. Kennedy (2) (C. Adams, B. Sutter)
PIT 12:33 S. Crosby (2) (D. Reese, T Kennedy)
What did you think of the Sabres’ performance on opening night? Use the comments section below.