PITTSBURGH – Tuesday morning, Kevin Porter said he really needed to start scoring. At night, he found the net twice to give the Buffalo Sabres a significant victory.
Porter, who failed to score in his opening 19 games with the Sabres, had a pair of goals against Pittsburgh to key a 4-1 victory. The emphatic win snapped the Penguins’ 15-game winning streak.
“They obviously were playing really well, so to come into their building and take two points is huge,” Porter said in CONSOL Energy Center.
The center opened the scoring with a short-handed goal midway through the first period. His second goal, with 3:28 gone in the second, gave the Sabres their 4-1 lead. It was important because the Sabres have struggled to hold two-goal advantages.
“I was happy to get one, and the second one was a little extra,” Porter said. “I was trying not to think about it, but after that many games you finally want to get one. I thought I was playing well, but you definitely want to chip in offensively. It’s nice to help out the team a little bit.”
“I’m real happy for Kevin,” coach Ron Rolston said. “Ever since he’s been up, he’s played his heart out. He competes every night for us. He does a lot of things.
“For him to come out and have the offensive game he did, that was pretty special.”
Luke Adam’s demotion to the minors last season lingered in his mind a long time. He thought about it during the final three months of the season. He pondered it during the summer. He contemplated it for the opening five months this season.
Finally, within the past two months, the Sabres’ prospect stopped thinking about getting back to Buffalo and focused on playing for Rochester. It helped because Adam was back in a Buffalo uniform.
Adam’s long wait for another NHL opportunity ended against the Penguins. It was his first game for Buffalo since Feb. 8, 2012, when a decent rookie season turned into what was beginning to look like a permanent demotion.
“I don’t know if I would have thought it would have took this long, but I guess patience paid off,” Adam said. “I’m happy to be back and excited.”
Adam attempted four shots during his team-low 9:36 of ice time.
Adam had 10 goals and 20 points in 52 games last season – including four goals and 11 points in the opening 11 games – but he fell out of favor with former coach Lindy Ruff because of his defensive play and got sent down to the Amerks. He stayed there while players such as Porter, Brian Flynn, Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp came up.
Adam wondered whether his NHL time in the organization had passed him by.
“It’s always in the back of your mind, but I think I was thinking about it too much, and that’s what got me in trouble,” Adam said. “The last month and a half, two months I’ve completely even wiped the idea away and just been focusing on my game down there. I think it’s come a long way in that time, and my confidence is back to where it was.
“I feel like I’m starting to control games and control the puck a lot more. It’s a good feeling.”
Adam had 14 goals and 32 points in 64 games with Rochester. He was also minus-12, but the 22-year-old said he’s improved since his first stay in Buffalo.
“I think I’m just more mature as a player on both ends of the rink,” Adam said. “I know my points haven’t really been there, as high I’d like or as high as they used to be, but I’m getting opportunities and playing well defensively. There’s been some tough breaks, but that’s hockey. That’s the game. Like I said, I’m excited to be back here.”
The Sabres are getting accustomed to saying goodbye to veteran defensemen. Buffalo traded Jordan Leopold to St. Louis on Saturday, and it followed up by shipping Robyn Regehr to Los Angeles on Monday.
The Sabres summoned Adam Pardy from Rochester to take Regehr’s roster spot. Forwards Thomas Vanek and Ville Leino missed the game with upper-body injuries.
“Obviously, Robyn is a big part of the team,” captain Jason Pominville said. “He plays a lot of minutes. He’s a beast to play against. He was a great teammate, a great leader on this team. It was really tough to see him go. … He’s going to be missed.”