on November 8, 2014 - 11:22 PM
, updated November 8, 2014 at 11:26 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby had five helpers in the 6-1 win. (AP/Gary Wiepert)
Let’s be honest. The Sabres, at best, stood a miniscule chance of beating Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Penguins are Buffalo’s worst matchup out of every NHL team.
But this ... this was ridiculous.
While the Sabres celebrated “Military Appreciation Night,” the Penguins held a “Name Your Own Score Night.” It wasn’t men versus boys. It was giants against toddlers. It was a blowout, a slobberknocker, a beatdown.
“That’s a good way to describe it,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said.
It was 6-1, and it would have been worse if the Penguins hadn’t eased up.
It was 1-0 before the fans settled into their seats. It was 2-0 before the first few sips of beverages were downed.
It was over before it started.
“If you don’t try against a team like that, you see the result,” Buffalo center Zemgus Girgensons said.
The Sabres looked atrocious for the second straight night in First Niagara Center, but at least this time there was a legitimate reason. Pittsburgh, unlike Friday’s opponent (Edmonton), is miles and miles ahead of Buffalo in every way imaginable.
It showed from puck drop to merciful buzzer in front of 19,070 fans, Buffalo’s first sellout crowd in 11 home games. The good news for the home folks is the Sabres’ next two games are on the road, Tuesday in St. Louis and Thursday in Minnesota.
The other good news is neither team is Pittsburgh, which has outscored the Sabres, 11-1, in two meetings this season.
“They outplayed us,” Hodgson said. “They outhustled us. They just outworked us. They outskilled us. Right down the line, I think everyone knows it.”
The Sabres wore camouflage jerseys for the pregame skate, and they may as well have kept them on all night. Their defense and offense couldn’t be seen.
The Penguins scored three times during the first period while Buffalo took just four shots. The first one didn’t come until Tyler Myers’ long-range attempt with 13:24 gone. The beleaguered Buffalo backers let out a huge – make that a Billy Fuccillo-like huuuggge – mock cheer to commemorate the event.
“Right off the bat we’re playing back on heels, scared to go out there and just play,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. “It’s frustrating, for sure.”
The plethora of Pittsburgh fans had plenty of reasons to cheer legitimately. The play-by-play essentially reads like this: “Sidney Crosby pass to [insert name here], goal by [insert name here.]” Pittsburgh’s superstar tied his career high with five assists. Like they did with Pavel Datsyuk, Corey Perry and Zdeno Chara, the Sabres provided a star with time and space, and the star went to the moon and back.
“Their top players certainly showed us why they’re top players,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
Crosby and Kris Letang worked a beautiful give-and-go with 1:21 off the clock. Patric Hornqvist tipped Letang’s power-play blast with 3:31 gone. Letang added another goal with 4:56 left in the first, and at 3-0 the game was over.
Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges probably wished the game ended after one period. He was on the ice for all six of the Penguins goals. Myers was on for five.
“I’ve got to face the facts. That’s not nearly good enough,” Gorges said. “My job is to be solid defensively, give our team a chance, be a leader, and to get scored on that many times is embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for myself.”
One week ago, the Sabres were able to trumpet a 2-2-1 run as progress. They’ve gone 0-2-1 since then and are just 3-11-2 this season.
“We’re running out of things to say here,” right wing Drew Stafford said. “Once again, it’s a matter of regrouping and coming back to work.”