Lagace, who made his first start in over two years, earned his seventh career victory and helped Pittsburgh clinch first place in the East Division when Washington needed extra time to beat Philadelphia. The Penguins were without their two best goaltenders Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith for the regular season finale.
“Probably what I’ll remember the most is when the buzzer sounded,” Lagace said. “It was such a relief. In the last four minutes I would say I started to think about the shutout. It was a little bit into my head and I wanted it so badly.
Carter scored his 17th goal as the Penguins finished the regular season with 13 wins and points in 14 of their last 16 games. Pittsburgh also finished 22-4-2 at home, one of the best scores in the league.
Michael Houser, who grew up in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, made 22 saves for Buffalo. Houser made his fourth straight start for the Sabers, who have used a record six NHL goaltenders this season.
Lagace played for the Vegas Golden Knights in his last start on February 1, 2019 against Carolina. Lagace, who played his 18th game in the NHL, joined Pittsburgh as a free agent during the offseason and shared the year with the team’s taxi team and the league affiliate. minor in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. He served as a substitute for five games for Pittsburgh, including the last two before the start of Saturday.
“Playing my first NHL game in two years, I wanted to keep it simple,” said Lagace. “I tried to have fun… I had a great time and the boys played well in front of me. I am obviously very happy with the result.
Lagace stopped Drake Caggiula on a breakaway late in the second period and made a point blank save on Victor Olofsson in the third, both being Pittsburgh maintaining a one-goal lead.
“I read the pass, but the reaction on the shot (Olofsson) was probably instinctive, honestly,” said Lagace. “When he shot him, I pulled my glove up and he struck. Sometimes you have to be lucky, and I’ll take it, of course.
Carter scored the only goal of the game at 1:58 of the second period for Frederick Gaudreau. Carter won the first four-goal game of his career in an 8-4 win over the Sabers on Thursday. He has five of Pittsburgh’s last nine goals.
The Sabers suffered an 18-game winless streak midway through the regular season, but have won eight of their last 21 games. Buffalo missed the playoffs for the 10th straight season, but the Sabers beat Pittsburgh 11-3 in the first period and 24-9, as they were trailed by just one goal in 40 minutes.
“I think our guys moved on,” said interim Sabers coach Don Granato. “They have a taste for confidence. They shouldn’t have been confident after giving up eight goals the other day. They came right out of the puck and had their confidence, and that’s progress.
Pittsburgh won its ninth division title in franchise history and the first since the 2013-14 season.
The Penguins notched their 15th straight playoff spot last week, the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.
“That’s when the fun begins,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We did the heavy lifting to earn the privilege of competing for the Stanley Cup. I look forward to the sequel with this group of players.
Evgeni Malkin couldn’t finish Saturday’s game against Buffalo.
Teddy Blueger centered the second row late in the third period and Jared McCann replaced Malkin on the top unit on a late power play. Malkin, who did not play in the 8:48 final of the regulations, recently returned to the roster after missing 23 games with a lower body injury.
Sullivan said Malkin thought he “changed something” in a collision and the team retained him as a precaution.
“He was checked out afterward and felt great,” Sullivan said. “We do not foresee any problems in the future.”
DeSmith suffers from an upper body injury, while Jarry works on a lower body injury. DeSmith missed his third game, while Jarry contested Thursday’s victory over Buffalo.
Sullivan expects Jarry and DeSmith to be ready for the start of the playoffs.
Penguins forward Brandon Tanev made his third full contact practice on Friday, but he also missed the regular season final on Saturday. He missed his 18th consecutive game with an upper body injury. Tanev has missed 24 of the last 26 games.
Mike Matheson of the Penguins missed his fourth straight game after being hit in the face by a puck on May 1 in Washington.
CRANKCASE NEAR 400
Carter is a goal after becoming the 101st player in NHL history and the second in the 2003 NHL Draft to register 400 goals.
Carter has nine goals and 11 points in 14 games since Pittsburgh acquired the veteran Los Angeles forward before the trade deadline. Carter has eight goals in 40 games for the Kings this season.
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