After a disappointing 7-4 road loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres had some time to recuperate and get ready for a Saturday matinee matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That time off from game action ended up paying off for the Sabres as they score early and often in a 5-2 win over the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Leading the way for Buffalo was captain Jack Eichel, who finished the afternoon with two power play goals, while Jeff Skinner was able to finally end a 22-game goalless drought with his 12th goal of the season in the third period.
Nearly three minutes later, the Sabres were gifted their first power play chance of the game as Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin went to the box for slashing.
Pittsburgh was given a chance to get back in the contest when Sabres defenseman Colin Miller was penalized for roughing after coming to the defense of forward Marcus Johansson, who took a strong hit from Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist in the Penguins end. Despite getting a few good chances, including one from captain Sidney Crosby that was stopped by Sabres goalie Carter Hutton's shoulder, the Penguins failed to convert on the man advantage.
The Sabres finished the first period of play in front 3-0, and looked like the better team in the opening 20 minutes despite being outshot 12-10.
The Penguins responded with a strong start to the period with some sustained zone time in the Buffalo end.
Buffalo was able to get a chance to extend the lead to 4-0 when Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz was penalized for tripping Victor Olofsson, but the Sabres didn't do enough to generate any quality scoring chances.
Less than a minute after Pittsburgh killed off the penalty, Malkin helped pull the Penguins back to within two as he converts off a Henri Jokiharju turnover in the Buffalo end. Malkin was able to take the puck off the boards and get defenseman Jake McCabe to overcommit to block a possible pass, and then fired a shot past the blocker of Hutton to make it a 3-1 game in favor of Buffalo.
The Penguins ended up outshooting the Sabres again in the second period, 13-11, but the Sabres managed to hold Pittsburgh to just a goal through 40 minutes of play.
After a shaky start on Tuesday against the Senators, Hutton was much better on Saturday against the Penguins, making 41 saves on 43 shots faced.
The Sabres return home on Sunday for a matchup with the visiting Winnipeg Jets at KeyBank Center. Faceoff is set for 3 p.m. on WGR with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show starting at 2 p.m. with Joe DiBiase.