PITTSBURGH -- Welcome to Mellon Arena, where we have the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Hamilton, er, Buffalo Sabres. Just another hint to relax. As a story in The News will point out tomorrow, Jim Kelley never said the Sabres are in danger of moving. They are just up for sale, which has been true for sometime.
Anyway, we have some of the biggest stars facing off tonight. The Pens' combo of Evgeni Malkin (43 points) and Sidney Crosby (40) lead the NHL in scoring. Meanwhile, the Sabres have Thomas Vanek, who has almost literally been a one-man gang. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Vanek has the highest percentage of his team's goals in the league. He has 19 of Buffalo's 68 goals, or 27.9 percent.
The Sabres will need more than Vanek to beat the Penguins.
7:39 p.m.: Game on. And if it gets boring (unlikely, but you never know), feel free to get a tour of Derek Roy's house and my early morning Florida appearance (I only say that because it clearly follows a late night) with the folks from Panthers.com. I miss Fort Lauderdale.
7:47 p.m.: We already have the best (and worst) hit of the night: Andrej Sekera tries to slap the puck down the ice on a penalty kill, and he BLASTS Jason Pominville with the puck. Big "ooooo" from the sold-out Mellon Arena crowd.
7:51 p.m.: Vanek forces Brooks Orpik to take a penalty. For a story on the former East Amherst resident's health issues, click here.
7:57 p.m.: I can see why some think Malkin is better than Crosby. He just passed the puck to himself through his legs to get by Toni Lydman, then Ruslan Fedotenko buried the cross-ice pass to make it 1-0 with 10:23 left.
7:59 p.m.: That didn't take long. Derek Roy picks up Pittsburgh turnover, uses Nathan Gerbe as decoy on two-on-one and scores with 8:53 left. Gerbe is at team-high plus-3 this season.
8:08 p.m.: Petr Sykora goes around net, gives puck to Malkin, who feeds Fedotenko for his second of the night. 2-1 with 4:22 left.
Fun game so far, but the last time I was in here was Game Six of the Stanley Cup finals, so a bit of a letdown compared to Nicklas Lidstrom carrying the Cup in front of me.
8:17 p.m.: End of one, 2-1 Pittsburgh.
8:35 p.m.: Game on. Pens have a five-on-three for 1:22.
8:38 p.m.: Crosby's turn. Spots Kris Letang for one-timer to make it 3-1 1:31 in.
8:45 p.m.: Sabres' turn. Adam Mair throws puck at net, Dany Sabourin loses rebound, and Ales Kotalik pokes it home with 13:20 to go.
8:52 p.m.: Vanek interference, and bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Five-on-three for two full minutes for Penguins with 10:46 left.
8:54 p.m.: Killed it.
9:05 p.m.: An "ugly" goal. Puck gets tipped to net, Paul Gaustad takes whack in the crease and Daniel Paille swoops in to knock it home.
9:14 p.m.: End of two, tied at 3.
9:32 p.m.: Game on.
9:39 p.m.: Vanek gets his 20th (!) to give Sabres a 4-3 lead with 13:38 left. Last season, Vanek didn't score his 10th goal until Dec. 15 and didn't reach 20 goals until Feb. 12.
9:59 p.m.: Sabres still hold one-goal lead with 4:35 left after killing another penalty. Penalty killers are the First Star, so far.
The Sabres win, 4-3, to run winning streak to two games. They close road trip 2-1.
Lydman on Malkin-Crosby: "As long as we win, they can have all the highlights they want. We'll take the two points."
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