Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney and Jordan Staal each had a goal and assist, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory Friday night. The Penguins won in Buffalo for the first time since November 2003 and snapped the Sabres’ five-game winning streak against them.
They also extended their own winning streak to three games after stumbling through a five-game losing streak.
“They’re such a great and dominating team,” said Fleury, who has allowed only three goals in his last three starts. “Those two points were big for us.”
Coupled with a 3-0 win over Carolina on Tuesday, the Penguins have beaten both of last season’s Eastern Conference finalists.
“We’ve played some big games against some big teams,” said Staal, who tied the game 2-2 with his 12th at 13:39 of the second period. “Carolina was a huge game for us, and now that we got this one we have a good feeling.
“Hopefully we’ll keep it going.”
Dominic Moore also scored for the Penguins, who have won their last three by a combined score of 11-3.
“We knew this was going to be a big challenge and a big test,” centre Sidney Crosby said. “We respected them, but we had confidence that we could beat them as well.”
Derek Roy and Chris Drury scored for Buffalo, which dropped its second straight. It’s only the second time this season the Sabres (29-9-3) have lost consecutive games. They lost 6-3 to Ottawa on Wednesday.
“What you need to guard against is letting that frustration affect how hard you work on the ice,” coach Lindy Ruff said.
Roy opened the scoring with his sixth goal at 14:44 of the first period. He one-timed Toni Lydman’s pass at the right circle past Fleury.
Whitney tied it at 7:26 of the second with his seventh while Pittsburgh had the man advantage. He one-timed Crosby’s cross-ice pass while standing in the lower left circle.
Drury gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead 3:24 later on the power play with his 21st, but Staal tied it nearly three minutes later when he knocked in Josef Melichar’s rebound.
Malkin gave Pittsburgh its first lead with 2.3 seconds left in the second. With the Penguins on the power play, Malkin rifled a slap shot over goalie Ryan Miller’s left shoulder for the rookie’s 19th goal.
That gave Pittsburgh some momentum heading into the third period. The Penguins have yet to lose a game in regulation when leading after 40 minutes this season (12-0-3).
“Going in with the lead after we were down was big,” Crosby said. “That set the tone for that third where we were able to go for that win.”
Moore capped the scoring, putting the puck into an empty net with 13 seconds left.
During the two-game losing streak, the Sabres’ special teams have plagued them. After killing 18 straight opponent power plays, Buffalo has given up five man-advantage goals to Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
“Special teams have been our Achilles’ heel,” Ruff said. “Our penalty kill in back-to-back games hasn’t been very good.”
Miller, in his sixth straight start, made 23 saves. He has allowed nine goals in his last two starts.
“We were out of sync,” Sabres forward Jason Pominville said. “They were coming at us pretty hard, and we just couldn’t settle down.”
Notes: The Sabres had their four-game, home-winning streak snapped . . . Sabres D Henrik Tallinder missed his first game because of an ankle sprain sustained against Ottawa. He is expected to be out at least two weeks . . . Buffalo will play its third game in four nights Saturday in Toronto . . . Roy scored for the first time in 12 games . . . Crosby, the NHL scoring leader, has seven points in three games . . . Pittsburgh was 2-for-5 on power plays and is 8-for-26 with the man advantage the last four games.