Sabres turn table on Penguins
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Turn about was fair play for the Buffalo Sabres on Friday at HSBC Arena.
Less than two full weeks removed from blowing a third-period lead Nov. 15 against the alternate uniform-wearing Penguins in Pittsburgh, the third jersey-sporting Sabres rallied for a similar victory last night.
Buffalo right wing Drew Stafford scored his fourth goal, and second of the game, at 3:11 of the third period to pave the way for center Paul Gaustad's winner at 16:36.
That goal, Gaustad's second of the game and season, gave the Sabres a 4-3 victory.
The Penguins (13-6-3, 29 points) lost in regulation for only the second time in 11 games. They are 8-2-1 over that span.
They also are 7-3-1 on the road - a most impressive mark given their poor power play away from Mellon Arena.
The Penguins were 0-for-7 with the advantage last night, the seventh time this season they have failed to score a power-play goal on the road.
They have scored only two goals on their past 23 road power-play opportunities.
"We didn't execute well," coach Michel Therrien said. "Of course, we need to start scoring. I didn't like our aggressiveness on the power play (last night)."
It didn't please captain Sidney Crosby, either. His 10th goal and second of the game at 19:04 of the second period had given the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
"We know what we have to do in order to be successful; it's a matter of doing it consistently," Crosby said. "There are some power plays we do it. There are some we don't; it's obvious, and it ends up costing us."
Crosby has scored seven goals in eight games since tallying only three in 14 contests - a career-worst start.
With 15 points in 10 games and 30 overall, Crosby is gaining ground in the NHL scoring race.
Of course, he and the rest of the league figure to have a hard time catching Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, so long as he stays healthy.
Malkin, who entered yesterday as the league-leader with 31 points, assisted on each of Crosby's goals, which were scored in the second period to erase the Sabres' 2-1 lead.
If rookie goalie John Curry was giving thanks for anything a day after Thanksgiving, it was likely that his first NHL start came with a team that happens to employ arguably the top center tandem of this or any recent generation.
Curry made 28 saves last night, drawing high praise from Therrien.
"He was outstanding," Therrien said.
The Penguins pulled even, 2-2, at 12:55 of the second period on Crosby's first of the game. Buffalo had taken a 2-1 lead on Gaustad's first goal at 12:21 of the second period. It was a power-play goal.
The Sabres tied the score, 1-1, barely a minute after falling behind in the first period. Stafford pounced on a loose puck and shot it past Curry at 11:25.
Right wing Tyler Kennedy had pushed the Penguins to a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period. He converted a pass from left wing Matt Cooke into his sixth goal at 10:27.
Defenseman Philippe Boucher did not return after leaving the game with an undisclosed injury shortly before the second intermission. He is not expected to play tonight at home against New Jersey.