PITTSBURGH — Dustin Tokarski made an NHL career-high 45 saves to help the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.
Nineteen of Tokarski’s saves came in the third period, when Buffalo was outshot 20-3. It was outshot 46-19 overall.
“I felt good. Just take it on as another game,” Tokarski said. “Focused in on what I can control. Be a presence back there. The guys battled hard and we got the win. … I’m enjoying it. We have a great group of guys. Good staff. Going to the rink every day is a lot of fun. I think when you have that kind of group, it just makes playing games, practices and being around the team a lot of fun.”
Colin Miller and Kyle Okposo scored for the Sabres (7-6-2), who had lost six of seven games.
Sidney Crosby had an assist for his first point this season, and Tristan Jarry made 17 saves for the Penguins (5-6-4), who have lost three in a row. They are 2-6-2 since starting the season 3-0-2.
“Obviously, we’d like to end up on the right side of the result,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Points are important. We’re well aware of that. I thought the team played really hard tonight. I thought we controlled a lot of the play. We didn’t get a whole lot of puck luck. We put a lot of pucks at the net. We had a lot of net traffic.
“I think we were trying to play the game that gives us the best chance to be successful. It just didn’t happen for us tonight.”
Pittsburgh has lost its three games with Crosby in the lineup this season by a combined score of 12-4.
Crosby made his season debut in a 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 30 after having wrist surgery Sept. 8. The center returned from missing five games while in NHL COVID-19 protocol in a 6-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Miller gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 28 seconds into the second period. Drake Caggiula carried the puck behind the Pittsburgh net before sending a pass off the right boards to Miller for a one-timer.
Okposo made it 2-0 by tipping a pass in front at 8:54 of the second.
Buffalo did not have another shot on goal until a slap shot from Rasmus Dahlin at 12:07 of the third period.
“We just came out flat (in the third),” Okposo said. “We had a tough power play to start there, a couple tough power plays to start. It just killed any momentum we had built in the first two periods. Made them feel good. We just have to do a better job of being a little bit harder and being a little bit simpler.
“When we have a chance to probably close out a game at the start of the third there, we just have to come out better.”
Jeff Carter nearly cut it to 2-1 with a wraparound at 16:31 of the second, but Tokarski pushed to his right for a pad save at the left post.
“Play our game,” Carter said. “When we play like that, we’re very hard to play against. We’ve shown that a lot this year. At times, we haven’t. It’s pretty noticeable. So we had a lot of opportunities tonight. Their goalie played an outstanding game. We’ll take some positives, but we’ve got to start getting some points here.”
Teddy Blueger had a chance for Pittsburgh on a breakaway 1:10 into the third, but Tokarski made a glove save on his snap shot.
Jake Guentzel had a pass from Bryan Rust go in off his skate, cutting it to 2-1 on a power play at 5:59 of the third. Crosby had the secondary assist.
“I’m glad we had a two-goal lead and we had [Tokarski] in net. That’s what I think of the third period,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “It was [Tokarski’s] show from that point. Starting right away. … We were reeling all the way through but battled all the way through.”
NOTES: Tokarski’s previous NHL high was 44 saves against the New York Rangers on April 1 last season. … The Sabres were 0-for-5 on the power play. The Penguins were 1-for-4; they hadn’t scored on 28 straight chances before Guentzel’s goal. … Pittsburgh is 4-4-2 at home. It was 22-4-2 at home last season.
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