Buffalo at Pittsburgh

Crosby-less Penguins sweep season series from Sabres

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Unusual enough that the Pittsburgh Penguins scored seven goals without Sidney Crosby. Stranger still, their highest-scoring game all season swung not on all that offense, but a game-changing penalty kill.

Ty Conklin beat Buffalo for the fourth time this season and the Penguins received goals from Evgeni Malkin and rookies during a 7-3 victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night.

Tyler Kennedy scored his first goal in 17 games during a three-point night, Chris Minard netted the first goal of his 10-game NHL career and Malkin put in his 39th of the season as the Penguins improved to 12-6-4 when Crosby doesn't play because of an ankle injury.

Crosby, coming off a two-goal effort Sunday against Washington in his third game after missing 21 with a high ankle sprain, had recurring pain during the morning skate. He has missed 22 of the Penguins' last 26 games with the injury but hopes to play Sunday against Philadelphia.

"I think guys feel now that if we do have to play with a shortened lineup, they feel comfortable with what they can do and what they can produce," said Conklin, who was strong in net until Buffalo scored three times in the third.

The Penguins swept the season series 4-0 for the first time since the Sabres joined the NHL in 1970, withstanding a five-minute elbowing penalty on Georges Laraque for injuring defenseman Nathan Paetsch early in the second period.

Paetsch passed the puck from along the goal line in the Buffalo zone moments before Laraque leveled him with a raised elbow. Paetsch lay motionless for several minutes before being assisted to the locker room with a concussion. He is out indefinitely.

Buffalo not only couldn't take advantage of what would have been an extended power play, the Penguins -- leading 1-0 -- had four good short-handed scoring chances before Jeff Taffe scored nine seconds into Maxim Afinogenov's hooking penalty. Afinogenov's penalty wiped out the final 1:08 of the extended power play and the Penguins went on to score three goals in the period.

"That got the fans into it and I think everyone on the bench really got going after that," forward Ryan Malone said. "We did a great job of killing that (penalty) and controlling that."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Laraque should be suspended.

"It was cheap shot," Ruff said. "How is it that not suspendable, taking an elbow to the chin and (being knocked) out cold? Somebody would have to explain to me why it's not."

Petr Sykora, expected to be out with a back injury, Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang and Taffe also scored for the Penguins, who moved past idle New Jersey and into the Atlantic Division lead. They also tied idle Montreal for first in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo, beginning to slide out of the playoff race, is 1-4-2 in its last seven and couldn't gain ground on Philadelphia, which leads by four points for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference chase. The Flyers lost to the Maple Leafs.

The Sabres scratched five players with injuries, including defensemen Jaroslav Spacek (ribs) and Dmitri Kalinin (shoulder), and Paetsch's injury further depleted them.

Goalie Ryan Miller -- 0-3-1 against Pittsburgh this season -- said the injuries are taking a toll on a team that needs to play with more desperation.

"It comes down to grinding and battling, and a lot of young guys are in new roles," Miller said. "I'm not trying to make excuses, but that's what I think it is. ... We're already on the outside looking in. We're already out of the playoffs."

Notes

  • Penguins GM Ray Shero needed seven stitches to close a gash that occurred during an afternoon pickup game.
  • Ryan Stone's assist on Minard's goal midway through the third was his first NHL point.
  • Buffalo is 1-5-3 in its last nine games against teams ahead of it in the conference.
  • The Penguins were 3-of-6 on the power play after having only one goal with a man advantage in six games.
  • Pittsburgh scored six goals three times previously this season.
  • Malkin's goal was his 93rd point, four fewer than NHL leader Alex Ovechkin of Washington.
  • Minard had a team-leading 17 goals at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).
  • Until the third period, Conklin -- who ended last season with Buffalo -- had allowed only two goals in four games against the Sabres, including the 2-1 outdoor game win at Buffalo on Jan. 1.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Ty Conklin beats the Sabres for the fourth time this season, as the Pens take over first.  (US Presswire)
Ty Conklin beats the Sabres for the fourth time this season, as the Pens take over first. (US Presswire)

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Scoreboard
Buffalo (32-28-11)0033
Pittsburgh  (40-24-7) «1247
Three Stars
S. Gonchar
PIT


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
T. Kennedy
PIT


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
D. Sydor
PIT


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
03:30Tyler Kennedy (9), Wrist Shot. Assist: Pascal Dupuis
2ND PERIOD
06:35Jeff Taffe (5), Tip-In. Assist: Darryl Sydor, Kris Letang
18:08Power Play - Sergei Gonchar (11), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ryan Whitney, Petr Sykora
3RD PERIOD
56.0Power Play - Petr Sykora (23), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ryan Malone, Sergei Gonchar
03:02Jochen Hecht (18), Backhand Shot. Assist: Mike Weber, Maxim Afinogenov
05:11Short - Daniel Paille (15), Slap Shot. Assist: Derek Roy, Henrik Tallinder
08:56Power Play - Evgeni Malkin (39), Tip-In. Assist: Darryl Sydor, Tyler Kennedy
10:03Chris Minard (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Jordan Staal, Ryan Stone
10:49Daniel Paille (16), Backhand Shot. Assist: Steve Bernier
13:23Kris Letang (6), Snap Shot. Assist: Tyler Kennedy, Pascal Dupuis
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
06:16James, 2 min, Tripping
13:32Stafford, 2 min, Roughing
15:51Sykora, 2 min, Holding
2ND PERIOD
02:34Laraque, 5 min, Elbowing
02:34Laraque, 10 min, Game Misconduct
06:26Afinogenov, 2 min, Hooking
17:24Vanek, 2 min, Tripping
3RD PERIOD
13.0Pratt, 2 min, Boarding
04:36Hecht, 2 min, Roughing
07:47Tallinder, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Buffalo9101332
Pittsburgh7141536
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Ryan Miller49:59266
Jocelyn Thibault 9:5731
Ty Conklin60:00293
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Buffalo0-for-0
Pittsburgh3-for-6
Game Information
Attendance - 17132
Referees - Eric Furlatt, Francois St-Laurent
Linesmen - Steve Barton, Pierre Champoux
 
Other Games
Car 3 Final
Chi 0
Cal 2 Final
Wash 3
Van 1 Final
Ana 4
NYI 2 Final
Fla 4
Tor 3 Final
Phi 2