PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Penguins headed into Buffalo Saturday night looking to keep both their winning streak and their captain’s point streak alive.
They managed to pull off both as Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves in the 5-2 victory over Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
It’s the Pens 12th straight win.
The streak is the longest in the NHL this season and second longest in team history. The Penguins won 17 straight to set the NHL record in 1993.
Fleury extended his career-best win streak to 11 games, while Sidney Crosby recorded an assist in the third period to push his point streak to 18 games.
Alex Goligoski and Mike Rupp scored 4:34 apart in the third period to seal a victory in a game the Penguins never trailed. Dustin Jeffrey and Arron Asham both scored first period goals for Pittsburgh, and Matt Cooke scored into an empty net.
Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville scored for the Sabres (12-14-4), who dropped to 3-1-1 in their past five.
The Penguins’ victory sets up an intriguing all-Pennsylvania midseason showdown between two of the NHL’s top teams at Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Atlantic Division rivals opened play Saturday first and second in points.
The outcome against the Sabres wasn’t decided until the third period, which began with the Penguins nursing a 2-1 lead.
After Goligoski and Pominville traded goals 51 seconds apart, Rupp scored with 3:17 remaining when he poked in Jeffrey’s centering pass behind Ryan Miller.
The Penguins, coming off a 5-2 win over Toronto on Wednesday, appeared in control when Jeffrey and Asham provided them a 2-0 lead before the first period was 10 minutes old.
The Sabres finally responded late in the period by capitalizing on a two-man advantage. Fleury blocked Ennis’ centering pass, but the puck landed directly on the forward’s stick, and Ennis flipped it in the open side.
Crosby then took over in the second period, but failed to score despite several chances, the best coming within a three-minute span midway through the second period.
Skating in alone from the blue line, Crosby cruised through the middle and had Miller down only to backhand a shot over the top of the net.
A little less than three minutes later, Crosby sneaked in behind the Sabres defense and had a partial break from the right circle. Miller got a glove on Crosby’s initial shot, and then closed his pads to prevent him from converting the rebound.
Though Crosby had a four-game goal streak end, he did manage an assist. Driving up the right wing, he sent a cross-ice pass to Goligoski, whose shot from a bad-angle appeared to deflect in off of Sabres defender Jordan Leopold in front.
Crosby now has 20 goals and 16 assists during his streak, and has failed to register a point in only four games this season.
The Penguins have also registered a point in 15 straight games (14-0-1), their longest streak since going 14-0-2 during the 2006-07 season.
The Pens head into Philadelphia on Tuesday for that big match-up against the Flyers at 7 p.m.