The Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres game should be known as the Jeff Carter show after the veteran centerman had a career-high four goals in what resulted in an 8-4 thumping of the Sabres. The Pens dominated the matchup which saw 11 different players get their names on the scoresheet, seven of which had a multiple-point evening.
Carter, the games first star discussed his first career four-goal game postgame: “I don’t know what happened out there, to be honest with you. The puck was following me all night, really all three of us. Lucky to get the first one to go in and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Tristan Jarry got the nod in goal and despite allowing four goals on 23 shots, had the offensive production in front of him to land his 25th win of the year. At the other end of the rink, 28-year-old rookie goaltender Michael Houser who has generated a buzz around his remarkable road to the NHL struggled against the Pens attack, allowing eight goals on 34 shots faced, handing him his first career loss in front of his friends and family who were among the 4,672 fans in attendance at PPG Paints Arena.
In the first period, Sabres forward Drake Caggiula struck first blood just 2:45 seconds into the game to give the team an early lead, their only lead of the hockey game. At the 9:57 mark of the period, the Carter show began as he scored his 13th of the year, assisted by linemates Jared McCann and Frederick Gaudreau before striking again for the second time in the period on the powerplay just two minutes later.
Early into the second period, Tage Thompson levelled the score at two, his eighth of the year assisted by Casey Mittelstadt. But just over a minute later, Carter struck again to complete the hat trick on a goal assisted by Marcus Pettersson and Gaudreau. The Sabres showed no quit however as a minute later, Caggiula scored his second of the night to tie the game at three. The back and forth continued between the two teams as Brian Dumoulin once again retained the lead for the Pens at 6:26 of the second period, before Jared McCann scored on a wrist-shot from the slot, beating Houser to his blocker side, and doubling the teams lead heading into the third and final frame. The McCann goal was assisted again by Gaudreau, his third of the game.
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Gaudreau reflected on his three assist night saying, “It’s just been a long way back to the NHL, so to have a night like that for sure feels good.”
At the 3:02 mark of the third period, Jeff Carter was hungry for more goals, and he got what he wanted. Goal number four, his 16th of the season came assisted once again by McCann to make it a 6-3 Penguins lead. Sidney Crosby scored three minutes later to surely put the game out of reach. The captain’s 24th of the year was assisted by Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang. Jeff Skinner added his seventh of the year before the end of the game, as well as Kasperi Kapanen, who had the final goal in what was an entertaining hockey game that lacked defensive structure for both sides. The final scoreline was an 8-4 Penguins victory, in a game where they outshot the Sabres 34-26.
Mike Sullivan on Carter’s four goal night:
“It’s hard to score goals in this league, never mind four in a game. It doesn’t happen often. It’s a huge accomplishment. He had a terrific game for us. His line had a terrific game for us.” said the Pens head coach. “I asked him after the game in front of the group if he ever had a four-goal game. I was fairly certain he had a number of hat tricks, but I wasn’t sure if he had four. He said no, he hadn’t, this is his first. So we’ll make sure we give him the puck.”
As a result of Carter’s career night, the Pens now sit atop their division with 75 points in 55 games played, and look to finish the season strong tomorrow afternoon when the face-off against the Sabres once more to close out their successful campaign at 3PM EST at PPG Paints Arena and get geared up for round one of the playoffs.