PITTSBURGH (AP) — Malcolm Subban made a save so spectacular, it left the Pittsburgh Penguins muttering to themselves.
Not that it mattered in the end. Not with the way the Penguins are playing, no matter who is in the opposing net.
Jeff Carter redirected a centering pass from Kris Letang past Subban 2:53 into overtime to lift the Penguins past Buffalo 3-2 on Friday night for their sixth straight victory.
Carter’s ninth goal of the season served as a moment of redemption. His tripping penalty with 5 seconds left in regulation forced Pittsburgh to start the extra period a man down. The NHL’s top-rated penalty kill kept Buffalo in check, buying Carter enough time to win it as Pittsburgh improved to 11-2-1 in its last 14 games.
“It’s been going well for us,” Carter said. “I think for the most part, we’re playing the right way. We’re hard on pucks. We’re making the right decision with pucks when we have it … and I think our team defense for the most part has been very good during this run.”
It’s a run that’s coincided with some lights-out play by the penalty killers. The kill at the start of overtime marked the 35th straight time opponents have failed to score with the man advantage, a streak that began just one game before the Penguins found their footing following an uneven opening month marked by injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak.
It helps that Pittsburgh does an excellent job staying out of the box. The Penguins entered play on Friday night as the least penalized team in the NHL.
“(Our players are) making the commitment to it to just play the game hard, play the right way and stay on the right side of the line so that we don’t take unnecessary penalties,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “And then when we do our penalty killers do a terrific job.”
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE
Evan Rodrigues set a career high when he scored his 10th goal of the season in the first period but should have had an 11th when a rebound found its way to his stick as he stood on the doorstep.
Rodrigues tried to flick it into the open net only to have Subban reach behind his body with his glove hand to redirect it out of harm’s way.
Pittsburgh challenged the play, believing the puck had crossed the goal line. An extended review only highlighted the most remarkable of Subban’s career-high 45 saves.
“I honestly didn’t even know it happened,” said Subban after his second start with the Sabres following a trade with Chicago earlier this month. “I thought someone hit my glove or something. I didn’t know it was the puck. I had no idea.”
Neither did Sullivan, Brock McGinn — who scored his third goal in four games in the second period — or Rodrigues, who was caught talking to himself after making his way to the bench after getting stoned by Subban.
“I don’t think he meant to save that,” Rodrigues said. “He was just pushing over kind of leading with his blocker and his arm was kind of trailing behind him. You want to see that one go in but the goalie made a good save.”
Buffalo managed to force overtime despite getting outshot 48-21 on the game and 21-5 in the first period alone.
Zemgus Girgensons picked up his sixth goal of the season for the Sabres and Rasmus Dahlin tied it at 2 with 5:18 left in regulation when he swooped in off the rush, took a centering pass from Rasmus Asplund and fired a shot past Jarry, who played well otherwise while stopping 19 shots to move to 9-1-1 in his last 11 starts.
Sabres coach Don Granato will take the result, particularly the night after his team earned a shootout win in Minnesota.
“Let’s face it, we get in here at 3 a.m. last night, you’re not going to be able to match the energy of the other team,” Granato said. “So you have to find a way. I thought our guys battled extremely hard to stay in the game and give themselves a chance to win a game.”
CASEY AT THE BAT (AND IN THE BOX)
Buffalo defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, the son of New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald, had a memorable NHL debut. He picked up an assist on Girgensons’ goal and fought Pittsburgh’s Sam Lafferty in the second period after taking exception to an open-ice hit between Lafferty and Vinnie Hinostroza.
Cameras caught Fitzgerald’s mom Kerry covering her mouth as Lafferty separated Fitzgerald’s white helmet from the top of his head.
Buffalo: Has the weekend off before hosting Columbus on Monday.
Pittsburgh: Begin a home-and-home with New Jersey on Sunday when they visit the Devils. New Jersey then comes to PPG Paints Arena next Tuesday.