I believe that every game in a regular 82 game schedule is important to making the playoffs and one could contend that every NHL game is a “must win” situation.
The ice was tilted is not an exaggeration of how the Sabres played by taking control of this game six minutes in with a 1-0 lead on the strength of a 10 SOG 2 advantage.
Buffalo is assessed with a “closing the hand” over the puck penalty with approximately five minutes remaining in the first period. Ten seconds later they escaped a “delay of game” penalty when our Penalty Killer shot the puck up and unimpeded into the players bench.
With the second period just underway five minutes in Buffalo is again penalized and the big three for Pittsburgh score in just twenty seconds into the Power Play to tie the contest.
The Sabres first Power Play half way through the second period has good puck movement and shots, leading commentator Rob Ray to observe that if the Sabres keep this kind of play up they will score. No scoring for the first Power Play attempt but the second just under three minutes later cashes in for the Sabres to regain the lead 2-1.
Buffalo is relentless with their fore check and staying on top of the play causing giveaways and creating chances. The Sabres are playing so well that the Sabres score with 43.8 seconds remaining in the second period to extend their lead to 3-1 with a 30 SOG 18 advantage.
Third period has Pittsburgh with the man advantage three times, but to no avail because Sabres Carter Hutton is looking sharp in net.
With only five and a half minutes remaining in the contest the Penguins and their fans appear “deflated”. Rob Ray observes that even the HC for Pittsburgh has stopped communicating with his players and is just letting the play, play through.
Then with just over two minutes remaining in the game Buffalo is assessed yet again another penalty, their fifth of the night.
The Penguins pull their goalie and they kept him out even after the Power Play expired and the Buffalo Sabres thwart every attempt and down the Penguins with pressure and consistency in Pittsburgh’s home opener 3-1 for Buffalo to earn the first victory of the first game of this our Golden Season.