Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins to town on Wednesday night for the first time in the 2022-23 season. The Sabres came in to the matchup with a pair of consecutive wins, while Pittsburgh has struggled with losses in five-straight.
Despite very early pressure from the Sabres in the first period, the Penguins broke through first five minutes in on a goal from Jason Zucker to make it 1-0. The play through the rest of the first was very back-and-forth from both teams, and neither one was able to really get their offensive game going.
The beginning of the second period was all Pittsburgh, as forward Josh Archibald scored early on to make the score 2-0, Penguins.
Pittsburgh remained in control for most of the period, as Buffalo was unable to get anything going offensively until the final two minutes of the frame. Forward JJ Peterka was finally able to break the goose egg for Buffalo with his third goal of the year, making the score 2-1.
Just eight seconds into the third period, the Penguins extended their lead to two again with a power play goal from Jake Guentzel.
However, the Sabres found their game once again in the third period, as Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Kyle Okposo all netted goals, while Victor Olofsson scored two to help lift the Sabres to a 6-3 win.
After another third period offensive explosion, the Sabres are now riding a three-game streak, and improving to 7-3-0 this season.
Here are this game's three observations:
1.) Stifling defense
For most of the first two periods, the Sabres had to deal with quite the defensive play from the entire Penguins team. Odd man rushes, sustained zone time, power plays - nothing seemed to break through their stalwart defensive scheme.
While the team was able to overcome this issue, it was a bit of a wake up call for the Sabres. The team hasn't faced this good of a defense at any point yet this season, having much success in the goal-scoring column.
While the team did make an adjustment by the third period, it was a little alarming that it took that long to get it together. It's very exciting to see, though, that the team makes those adjustments in-game, where in years past the offensive play would simply fizzle out.
2.) Playmaking Power
Defenseman Owen Power was touted as a reliable and sturdy two-way defenseman coming out of the 2021 NHL Draft. While he hasn't quite found his goal scoring touch offensively, his playmaking abilities are incredible.
With two assists on Wednesday night, bringing his season total up to five, Power finds himself in a distributor role on a team of shooters. The awareness that he has when in the offensive zone outmatches some players who have been in the league for many years.
The hockey IQ of Power seems to be increasing quickly on both sides of the puck. He's been called upon to make huge defensive plays on an injured Sabres blue line, and has answered the bell nearly every time.
He's a game-changing player.
3.) Comeback kids are back at it again
The Sabres made a name for themselves at the end of last season as a team that never gave up and would always make the game interesting towards the end. This year appears to be no different early on after winning two of their last three games in comeback fashion.
With an early third period goal from the Penguins, the Sabres seemed to be down-and-out with nothing going offensively. Then the mood of the whole team seemed to shift drastically, and the shooting sticks were turned on.
Five goals in just around 17 minutes is quite the impressive feat.
While it's not good that the Sabres get off to cold starts in some games, it's very good to see them be able to turn themselves around. A combination of leadership, chemistry, and confidence is the reason why the team is performing so well.
The Sabres will now head back on the road for two games, with the first stop being in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday to take on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Faceoff from PNC Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET with pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6 p.m. ET with Schopp and the Bulldog.