BUFFALO, N.Y. – The only thing Marc-Andre Fleury hadn’t done during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ surge was record a shutout.
That changed when he made 30 saves to lift the Penguins to a 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. Pittsburgh has won four straight and earned at least one point in seven consecutive (6-0-1). Fleury has been in net every game during the streak, rebounding from a rough first month of the season in which he appeared in no more than two straight games and went 1-6.
“It’s a lot more fun, definitely,” said Fleury, who recorded his first shutout of the season and 17th of his NHL career. “Everybody’s been contributing. When you win, nothing else matters.”
Pascal Dupuis provided all the offence Fleury needed, netting a one-timed snap shot with 4:56 left in the first period. Sidney Crosby stole the puck from rookie Luke Adam in the right corner and fed Dupuis, who one-timed a shot past goalie Jhonas Enroth.
“I didn’t know if (Crosby) was going to slide it or try to bring it to the net himself,” Dupuis said. “Obviously he made the right play. He always does.”
Enroth took the brunt of the blame.
“A little bit of a rookie mistake by me,” he said after his fifth game this season. “I tried to deflect the pass from Crosby, but he caught me off guard. I think I have to adjust, don’t try to take the pass just take the shot there.”
But Adam also stepped up to take some of the heat off of Enroth.
“I have to take full responsibility for that,” said Adam, recalled from Portland of the AHL three times this season. “You don’t want to make mistakes like that.”
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff deflected the attention off his young players and praised Crosby, one of the NHL’s top playmakers.
“Crosby is good at picking pockets,” Ruff said. “He’s a guy that will look for takeaways. He got one and he made a nice play.”
It didn’t seem as if one goal would be enough as both teams played an open style with plenty of scoring chances. Buffalo peppered Fleury with 11 shots in each of the final two periods, including six during two straight power plays early in the third period.
“In a game like that, you can’t miss the net on some of those good chances,” said Ruff, whose team has dropped three of four after a 4-0-1 run. “You can’t miss the net on the power play when you’re dead in the slot. Those are ones you’re going to have to convert if you’re going to win hockey games.”
Enroth finished with 28 saves in place of Ryan Miller, who is still sidelined by a groin injury.
The depleted Sabres, 3-8-1 at home, also played without centres Tim Connolly and Rob Niedermayer. Connolly left Monday’s practice because of a groin injury. Niedermayer is out following arthroscopic knee surgery.
Adam and Colin Stuart were recalled from Portland along with Enroth. Stuart had several quality scoring chances in the second period.
Five of Fleury’s 17 shutouts have been in 1-0 games. His last blanking was March 18 at Boston.
NOTES: Sabres forward Thomas Vanek had a seven-game point streak snapped. … Crosby extended his point streak to 10 games, his longest stretch since a 12-game run in the final month of the 2008-09 season. He has a point streak of at least 10 games in five of his six NHL seasons. … Buffalo went 0-for-3 on the power play. Pittsburgh has killed off 40 of 42 penalties in November, including the last 20. … Buffalo RW Drew Stafford is still out because of an upper body injury, but he might return this weekend.