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Crosby snaps slump as Penguins rout Sabres

NHLI via Getty Images - The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his second-period goal against the Sabres on Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his second-period goal against the Sabres on Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen (left) and James Neal (right) celebrate a goal by Evgeni Malkin (middle) of Russia during the second period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen (left) and James Neal (right) celebrate a goal by Evgeni Malkin (middle) of Russia during the second period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - The Sabres' Matt D'Agostini (27) shoots at Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Sabres' Matt D'Agostini (27) shoots at Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury battles for the puck with the Sabres' Zemgus Girgensons (28) during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury battles for the puck with the Sabres' Zemgus Girgensons (28) during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - The Sabres' Linus Omark reacts to a high stick from the Penguins' Matt Niskanen during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Sabres' Linus Omark reacts to a high stick from the Penguins' Matt Niskanen during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
Getty Images - Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is greeted by fans as he heads to the ice for warmups before playing the Penguins on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is greeted by fans as he heads to the ice for warmups before playing the Penguins on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
Getty Images - Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is presented with a team USA jersey during a pregame ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Olympics before playing the Penguins on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is presented with a team USA jersey during a pregame ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Olympics before playing the Penguins on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - The Sabres' Mike Weber heads up ice as the Penguins' Sidney Crosby gives chase during the second period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Sabres' Mike Weber heads up ice as the Penguins' Sidney Crosby gives chase during the second period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Sabres' Matt Ellis is stopped on a first-period shot by Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Sabres' Matt Ellis is stopped on a first-period shot by Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Penguins' Craig Adams checks the Sabres' Marcus Foligno on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Penguins' Craig Adams checks the Sabres' Marcus Foligno on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Sabres' Drew Stafford scores a first-period goal against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Sabres' Drew Stafford scores a first-period goal against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Penguins' James Neal jumps over teammate Sidney Crosby while defended by Henrik Tallinder on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Penguins' James Neal jumps over teammate Sidney Crosby  while defended by Henrik Tallinder on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Sabres' Ryan Miler and Mike Weber stop a scoring chance by the Penguins' Chris Kunitz on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Sabres' Ryan Miler and Mike Weber stop a scoring chance by the Penguins' Chris Kunitz on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, with help from teammates Chad Ruhwedel and Henrik Tallinder, stop a puck from scoring in front of the Penguins' Jussi Jokinen on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, with help from teammates Chad Ruhwedel and Henrik Tallinder, stop a puck from scoring in front of the Penguins' Jussi Jokinen on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Penguins' Evgeni Malikin avoids the Sabres' Jamie McBain on his way to scoring a second-period goal Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Penguins' Evgeni Malikin avoids the Sabres' Jamie McBain on his way to scoring a second-period goal Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
NHLI via Getty Images - The Penguins' Evgeni Malikin scores a second-period goal against Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>The Penguins' Evgeni Malikin scores a second-period goal against Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - Sabres defenseman Mike Weber (6) and goaltender Ryan Miller (30) defend as the Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz looks for a rebound during the second period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Sabres defenseman Mike Weber (6) and goaltender Ryan Miller (30) defend as the Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz looks for a rebound during the second period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP - Sabres left winger Matt Ellis chases his own rebound while Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury defend during the third period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Sabres left winger Matt Ellis chases his own rebound while  Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury defend during the third period Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

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By Josh Yohe
Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 10:12 p.m.
 

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.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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