for this game

Biron, Sabres shut down Penguins

Nov 18, 2006 - 3:49 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- One reason Martin Biron and the Buffalo Sabres have been so good this season is the luxury of possessing two quality goaltenders.

Biron made 34 saves in leading the Sabres to a 4-2 victory over the slumping Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 29-year-old Biron, playing in his fifth straight game in place of the injured Ryan Miller, raised his record to 7-1-0, while Maxim Afinogenov, Thomas Vanek, Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik scored for Buffalo.

Miller, who dressed for this one and might get the start against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, has a 9-1-1 record with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. Biron had struggled with a 3.26 GAA and an .884 save percentage entering the Pittsburgh game, but had some unfortunate luck.

"It seems like every game has been a bit better," Biron said. "It was a loss last game (4-2 defeat vs. Ottawa on Wednesday), it was one of those where they got a couple bounces. Tonight I felt a little better."

Sidney Crosby scored both goals for Pittsburgh, which has lost five of its last six games. Crosby, the first selection in the 2005 draft, has nine goals and 17 assists in 17 games this season.

The Sabres took a 3-0 lead with goals 2:28 apart in the second period. Vanek scored his team-leading 12th goal at 9:00 before Drury snapped a nine-game scoring drought for a 3-0 lead when he roofed a rebound over Pittsburgh goaltender Jocelyn Thibault.

"We had a good cycle, a good shift," Vanek said. "We had a couple good chances before. I just turned around and shot it and it went in."

Vanek, the fifth pick in the 2003 draft, has six goals and two assists in his six-game points streak.

Pittsburgh sliced the lead to 3-1 when Crosby took a pass from Mark Recchi on a 2-on-1 rush and beat Biron to the short side.

Crosby later cut the lead to 3-2 with his ninth goal of the season at 18:59 of the third period before Kotalik's empty-netter sealed Buffalo's triumph.

"A game is a game, no matter who you're playing," Crosby said. "You want to play your best. I think it's good to see when we play our game, even against a strong team like Buffalo, we get good results. But we've got to look at it the other way, and say two or three periods is not a complete game. If we want to a competitive, we can't accept it."

Afinogenov, who missed the last five games with a shoulder injury, gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead on the power play at 6:06 of the first period when he beat Thibault from close range. The right wing has nine goals and 11 assists in 14 games.

"When you sit around it's not that easy, but when you jump in the game you feel back, and you're happy," Afinogenov said. "That's what I feel today."

Afinogenov's return coincides with the loss of Derek Roy, who is out indefinitely with a hand injury.

"To get Max back was a big plus, he was our leading scorer when he went out of the lineup, at the same time losing Derek is tough," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "Max gave us instant energy. He scored the goal on the (power play) and made several other very good plays in the game."

Thibault recorded 31 saves for the Penguins, who went 0-for-6 on the power play. Buffalo was 2-for-4 with the extra skater.

The Penguins will try to end their slump against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

"When we had success, we had 20 guys playing hard, doing the right things," Pittsburgh's Mark Recchi said. "When we have half a team, we're going to lose these games."

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