Crosby snaps slump as Penguins rout Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. — So much for the slump.
Sidney Crosby, mired in his biggest funk of the season, scored a highlight-reel goal that triggered a rout as the Penguins downed the Buffalo Sabres, 5-1, on Wednesday at First Niagara Center.
Crosby's recent play would be impressive for most players but has been below his standards.
Entering Wednesday's game, Crosby had gone five games without scoring a goal and had produced only eight points in 10 games, three of which came in one night against the New York Islanders.
“One game doesn't say a whole lot,” Crosby said. “But it's nice to score. You just try to work hard and hope you get rewarded. It's nice when they go in.”
Crosby rarely has trouble scoring against Buffalo and goalie Ryan Miller.
He has registered at least one point in 17 straight games against the Sabres and scored the most famous goal of his career against Miller in overtime of the gold medal game at the 2010 Olympics.
With the score tied 1-1 in the second period, the Penguins were on a power play when Crosby received a pass from defenseman Matt Niskanen. Crosby split Buffalo forward Brian Flynn and defenseman Mike Weber with a dizzying display of stick-handling.
A moment later, Crosby snapped a shot that zipped in and out of the net before Miller's glove moved.
“That was vintage Crosby,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “He used to do that stuff all the time earlier in his career, but the league is so much tighter checking now that those kinds of goals are harder to pull off. But that was a beautiful, beautiful goal.”
Crosby sensed that Buffalo's defenders were flat-footed during the play.
“I was able to come through with speed,” he said. “Nisky gave me a nice, hard pass.”
Crosby also provided strong work on the team's first goal. Down 1-0 following Drew Stafford's ninth goal of the season, Crosby and left wing Harry Zolnierczyk crashed into the corner to Miller's left, creating a turnover from Stafford.
Moments after Crosby set up right wing Craig Adams for a shot, Zolnierczyk was there to bang in his second goal of the season.
Crosby received an assist on that goal and leads the NHL with 77 points.
Zolnierczyk's goal not only tied the game but also instilled some life into a Penguins team that was sloppy defensively throughout the first 20 minutes.
Crosby's goal and assist put the Penguins ahead, and Evgeni Malkin gave them a comfortable lead with a goal of his own. Malkin pushed the puck past defenseman Jamie McBain, which gave him a breakaway against Miller. The Russian center faked a move to the backhand before sweeping the puck past Miller.
“I'm not sure if Sid's goal was better or if Geno's goal was,” right wing Brian Gibbons said. “Maybe I'd say Sid, but I don't know. They were both impressive.”
Gibbons scored his fourth goal of the season, and James Neal scored for a second straight game.
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