Penguins Notebook: Sabres hope to feed off comeback victory

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BUFFALO, N.Y.-- The Buffalo Sabres, mired near the bottom of the Northeast Division, Eastern Conference and overall NHL standings at 6-8-1, might have reached a turning point Friday night.

They were booed off the ice by their home crowd at the end of the second period, when they trailed by a goal, but came back with three third-period goals to beat division-leading Boston, 4-2, and end a two-game losing streak.

The Sabres figure playing a highly skilled team such as the Penguins -- who visit First Niagara Center today -- is a good way to forge ahead.

"Against a team like Boston, one of the top teams in the league, they're extremely good with back pressure," said winger Drew Stafford, who broke a slump Friday with his first goal this season.

"They're extremely good with high-skilled forwards. A lot like Pittsburgh. We're going to have our work cut out for us.

"[Friday] night's game was a huge statement win for us, a huge character win for us. We want to stick with it, come back against a team like that. We know we're going to have the same kind of game [from] Pittsburgh, and we have to be ready for that."

Things had been going so badly that defenseman Tyler Myers, a 2008 first-round draft pick, was benched for two games.

He had one of the third-period goals in the win against Boston.

"It was one of our best periods as a team," Myers said. "Really, in the last two years, even when we took the lead, we've been known to sit back a lot. But we took the lead and we kept pushing, but in a smart way, which was really good to see. It's exactly the way we have to play to win."

Asked to compare the Penguins with Boston, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said, "We know that they're playing well. They've probably got as much team speed as Boston.

"I think their lineup is just as deep as Boston.

"Maybe Boston defenders have a slight edge when it comes to the back end.

"Overall, they're one of the teams you're going to have to deal with if you want to get to the top in the East."

Bennett enjoys the moment

Penguins winger Beau Bennett doesn't have text service in Canada, so, when the team landed Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, his phone nearly exploded.

He made his NHL debut the night before in a 3-1 win at Winnipeg. The team opted to spend the night there, then fly to Buffalo.

"I talked to a lot of people and thanked a lot of people for all they've done to help me along the way," Bennett said. "I have some more to go, but I got to most of them."

Bennett had one shot, one hit, two blocked shots and no points in 11 minutes, 37 seconds of ice time.

"It was really exciting," he said. "The jitters were going a little bit, but, after a couple of shifts, I kind of settled down.

"That first time playing in a Canadian rink with that crowd, it's definitely different than what I'm used to. It was louder. But you enjoy it. That's what you play hockey for. That's what I always kind of dreamt of growing up."

Bennett, a first-year pro recalled Thursday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, said he hasn't been subjected to much rookie hazing. Yet.

"I'm sure something will come," he said. "But just the normal stuff -- helping out with some stuff and sitting near the front of the bus."

Bucking an old trend

It's a cliché that coaches worry about their own teams' play more than that of their opponents, but Ruff broke away from that when asked about Penguins star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

"Well, those guys do some stuff really well ... " Ruff said.


Penguins coach Dan Bylsma stopped short of naming Marc-Andre Fleury his starting goaltender for today, but did acknowledge that, with a schedule that's not as cramped as it sometimes is this lockout-shortened season, he can consider riding a hot goalie rather than sticking to a preset rotation. Fleury has won the past two games, giving up three goals. ... Sabres winger Thomas Vanek led the NHL with 23 points before Saturday, but he has had no points in his past three games. ... Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera (charley horse) did not practice and is doubtful for the game.

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