for this game

Crosby, Pens bounce back against Sabres

Mar 31, 2012 - 4:11 AM
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Sidney Crosby posted a goal and three assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins slipped past the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3, on Friday.

Steve Sullivan had a goal and two assists while Evgeni Malkin added one goal and one helper for the Penguins, who were coming off consecutive losses to the Islanders in a home-and-home. Brent Johnson made 25 stops.

"It was fast out there and we wanted to play fast," said Crosby. "They wanted to play fast, too. It was pretty good atmosphere and was a playoff-style game. Very happy to get the win here."

The Penguins are a solid No. 4 in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of idle Philadelphia. They still have an outside chance of winning the Atlantic Division and the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but are five points back of the Rangers with four games to play.

Jordan Leopold, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis each had a goal while Ryan Miller gave up four goals 33 shots for the Sabres, who had won five straight coming in.

The loss pushed the Sabres out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. They have 86 points, same as Washington, but one fewer win. Both have four games to play.

"It's been a playoff mentality for us for a while now," said Miller. "If this was a playoff game we'd be talking about how we have to put this behind us and look to the next game. That's exactly what we have to do."

Pittsburgh took the lead 3:50 in on the power play when Malkin's first shot from the right circle was stopped, but he followed it up and whacked the second attempt out of the air and in.

Buffalo evened the game nearly three minutes later when Jason Pominville's shot from the right circle was stopped and Leopold was in front to jam in the rebound.

Pittsburgh scored again at the 12:52 mark of the first as Crosby swept the puck in from the right side, but Buffalo again had the answer three minutes later as Ennis pulled up at the right circle and snuck a wrist shot past Johnson.

Skating on the power play in the second, the Penguins took a 3-2 lead as Malkin got the puck to Crosby, who took it to the top of the right circle before firing it over to the left where James Neal snuck it in with 8:17 left in the frame.

It was a 4-2 game just over three minutes later when Sullivan tipped the puck in down low on a broken play for his 15th of the season.

Buffalo caught a break to make it a one-goal game. A faceoff was won by Pittsburgh in its own end and Brian Strait tried to clear it, but it hit off a partition in the glass and popped down to the front where Vanek backhanded the gift past Johnson.

That was it, though, as Johnson stopped all nine shots he faced in the third and Jordan Staal put the puck into the empty net with a few seconds to play to seal the win.

Game Notes

Pittsburgh hosts Philadelphia on Sunday...Buffalo plays in Toronto on Saturday to begin a home-and-home set...Each team won twice in the season series...Malkin leads the NHL with 102 points...Pittsburgh went 2-for-3 on the power play while Buffalo was 0-for-2.