BUFFALO (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to three games with a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon.
Sidney Crosby’s three points and Pascal Dupuis’ two goals helped the Penguins regain the lead in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
In what could be seen as a sign of things to come, the Penguins scored twice in the first 87 seconds of the first period.
Chris Kunitz forced Cody Hodgson to turn the puck over behind the Buffalo net. Kunitz fed a pass back to Brooks Orpik at the left point and his one-timer was deflected by Dupuis in front, which beat Ryan Miller for a 1-0 lead just 35 seconds into the game.
Things got worse quickly for the Sabres as Tyler Myers was sent to the box for a high-sticking minor at the 1:08 mark of the period. It would take the Penguins 19 seconds to capitalize on the man-advantage.
Evgeni Malkin’s slap shot from the right point missed the net, but Sidney Crosby was left alone at the right post and shoveled the rebound off the endboards behind Miller.
Buffalo was finally able to generate some momentum after a successful penalty kill later in the period. Matt Cooke was unable to get the puck out of the zone and the Sabres went to work.
Christan Ehrhoff’s slap shot was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury, but Hodgson picked up the rebound and fired it home to cut the lead in half at the 6:32 mark.
In the second period, the Sabres were able to tie the game after the Penguins got into penalty trouble.
With Crosby in the box for cross-checking, Tanner Glass got called for playing the puck with his hand off a faceoff, giving the Sabres a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes.
Pittsburgh was able to hold off Buffalo for about 90 seconds, but eventually Buffalo cashed in. Ehrhoff’s wrist shot was deflected by Thomas Vanek in front for his league-leading 12th goal of the season.
The Penguins were able to hold the Sabres off the board for the remainder of the period, but an unfortunate bounce gave Buffalo the lead early in the third period.
Nathan Gerbe broke into the Penguins’ end, pulled up and fired a quick shot. Orpik was able to block it, but the puck bounced across the ice to a wide open Steve Ott on the weak side, which he quickly fired past Fleury at 5:17.
However, the Penguins would answer right back to tie the game.
Matt Niskanen forced a turnover at the offensive blue line and the Penguins started buzzing. Kris Letang made a nifty move along the boards and fired a cross-ice pass to Dupuis, who rifled home his second goal of the game at 7:06.
The Penguins avoided disaster with Kunitz in the box for taking a retaliatory hack at Ott.
Fleury had to make a couple of point-blank chances at the top of the crease to help the Penguins kill the penalty.
Moments later, the Penguins regained the lead with 2:04 to play.
Crosby took control along the nearside boards and fed a pass back to Paul Martin. The puck was rolling when it got to Martin, but he got enough of it and Miller never saw it through a screen.
With under a minute to go, the Sabres pulled Miller, but were unable to get anything by Fleury as the Penguins held on for the 4-3 win.
The Penguins will now return home to take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice