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Crosby leads Pens to win in Buffalo

Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists, and Steve Sullivan had a goal and two assists, as the Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Friday night in Buffalo.

The Pittsburgh Penguins looked like a team poised to make a playoff run in their 5-3 victory over the Buffalo abres on Friday night. Playing tight defense and killing off penalties proved to be enough to hold off Buffalo’s late third period charge and earn a victory. Brent Johnson played well and kept the puck out of the net when it mattered late into the game to earn his first victory since Feb. 12.

Evgeni Malkin scored his career high 48th goal of the season with only four minutes gone in the first period to put the Penguins on the board early. On the power play, Malkin received a pass in the slot from Steve Sullivan, wristed a shot toward Ryan Miller and ended up batting his own rebound out of the air and into the back of the net.

The Sabres answered shortly after to tie the game at 1-1. Johnson was unable to control the puck after a shot by Jason Pominville, and former Penguin Jordan Leopold smashed the puck over the goal line for the Sabres.

Sidney Crosby added a goal in the first period to give the Pens a 2-1 lead. Crosby smacked in a shot through the legs of Miller after receiving a pass down low near the end boards. However, the Penguins lead was short lived when Tyler Ennis wristed a shot past Johnson just before the end of the period to tie the game at 2-2.

James Neal notched his 38th goal of the season, capitalizing on a Penguins power play. Neal fired a shot past Miller after receiving a cross-slot pass from Crosby to put the Penguins back ahead in the second period, 3-2. Sullivan chipped in on the offensive surge by the Penguins by scoring a goal late in the second period to extend the lead to 4-2. Crosby directed a backhand pass toward the slot, and Sullivan deflected the puck past Miller just before the goaltender could glove it.

The Sabres responded shortly after on an odd deflection off the boards when Tomas Vanek gathered up the loose puck and fired a backhand shot past Johnson to close the gap at 4-3.

But the Sabres would get no closer. The score remained at 4-3 throughout the entirety of the third period with stellar goaltending by Johnson and tight defense by the Penguins.  Jordan Staal added an empty net goal late in the final period to put the final score at 5-3.

The Penguins look to continue trying to catch the New York Rangers for first place in the Eastern Conference on Sunday with a home game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The game is set to start at 12:30 p.m. at the Consol Energy Center.

Notes:
Crosby now has over 600 points in his career with his one goal and three assists on the night. Crosby is the seventh fastest player in NHL history to reach this margin.

Three Stars:
1) Sidney Crosby
2) Steve Sullivan
3) Brent Johnson

Scoresheet:
Goals:

PIT: Evgeni Malkin (48), Sidney Crosby (5), James Neal (38), Steve Sullivan (15), Jordan Staal (25)
BUF: Jordan Leopold (9), Tyler Ennis (13), Tomas Vanek (26)
Assists:
PIT: Steve Sullivan (2), Sidney Crosby (3), Pascal Dupuis (2), Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik
BUF: Jason Pominville, Ville Leino, Alexander Sulzer, Mike Weber

In the Net:
PIT: Brent Johnson (W) 25-28
BUF: Ryan Miller (L) 29-33

Special Teams:
PIT: 2-3
BUF: 0-2

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