One streak may be over for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they have a shot at extending another one on Wednesday evening in the opener of a home-and-home series with the hosting New York Rangers.
The Penguins carried a 15-game winning streak into Tuesday night's home meeting with the Buffalo Sabres, a run that tied the 1981-82 New York Islanders for the second-longest in NHL history. Only the 1992-93 Penguins own a longer winning streak, a 17-game burst.
However, this current edition of the Pens paid a high cost in the 15th win of their streak on Saturday versus the Islanders. Superstar Sidney Crosby took a puck to the face after a shot by teammate Brooks Orpik in that 2-0 win and is out indefinitely with a fractured jaw.
Without the league's leading scorer, Pittsburgh dropped a 4-1 decision to the Sabres.
In addition to Crosby, defenseman Kris Letang and Paul Martin missed the game due to injury.
Pittsburgh has notched three straight shutouts, with backup Tomas Vokoun having been in net for the last seven periods of that span. He was credited with the two most recent shutouts, but saw his career-best scoreless string snapped at 173 minutes, six seconds when he yielded a short-handed goal with 9:36 to play in the first period.
That also ended the Penguins' franchise-record shutout streak at 218:48.
Jarome Iginla potted his first goal with the Penguins after being acquired last week from the Calgary Flames, but Vokoun ended up allowing four goals on 13 shots before getting lifted early in the second period.
"At the time it felt good to get my first (goal) as a Penguin ... but it's a disappointing feeling now because I know these guys had worked hard at this streak," Iginla said.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 16 shots he faced in relief, but Pittsburgh also had its club-record 12-game home winning streak come to an end.
Still, Pittsburgh is five points up on the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Eastern Conference and gets a chance to extend a seven-game series winning streak over the New York Rangers tonight.
The Pens have won all three of their meetings with the Rangers this season, the last two by shutout, and have outscored New York 28-8 over the run with three shutouts. They'll host the Blueshirts on Friday.
That isn't good news for the Rangers, who have lost four straight at home to the Penguins and sit last in the NHL with just 2.26 goals per game.
New York hopes it found the answer to those scoring woes after acquiring forward Ryane Clowe from the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday for three draft picks.
Clowe, who waived his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal, has been snakebitten this year, failing to record a single goal in 28 games. He does have 11 assists and 79 penalty minutes this season and has posted 271 points in 423 career games.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to acquire Ryane," said Rangers general manager Glen Sather in a statement. "He is a unique combination of size, skill and toughness. His strong leadership and character make him a tremendous addition to our organization on and off the ice."
New York had lost four of five, including two straight by way of a shutout, before notching a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. Ryan Callahan scored a game-tying goal while shorthanded in the second period and Derek Stepan scored twice, including the game-winner.
Callahan also had three assists, Rick Nash had a goal and a helper and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves.
"They fought real hard in the first and kept coming at us really strong in the second and third periods," said Lundqvist. "The really big thing for us tonight was the penalty kill and that short-handed goal was huge."
The win allowed the Rangers to remain tied with the Islanders for the eighth spot in the East, but the Blueshirts come into this game ninth overall in the conference following Tuesday's results. They are two points back of the Isles and New Jersey Devils for the last two playoff seeds in the conference with games in hand on both clubs.