Buffalo at Pittsburgh

Vanek's league-leading 20th goal pushes Sabres past Penguins

CBSSports.com wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- Thomas Vanek was happier that his his third-period goal against Pittsburgh gave the Buffalo Sabres the victory than he was about it giving him the league lead.

Vanek's NHL-best 20th of the season completed a rally from two goals down and gave the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 victory.

"I really don't think about my goal total too much," Vanek said. "It's not important. What's more important is that we got the win here and that we've got to keep winning."

The Sabres have won two straight after snapping out of a stretch of losing eight of 10. Derek Roy, Ales Kotalik and Daniel Paille also scored for Buffalo.

Ruslan Fedotenko had two goals and Evgeni Malkin added two assists for Pittsburgh, which has lost back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 28-30.

"At 3-1, we started to play horribly," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

"It was a horrible performance. That's the truth."

Vanek's goal was a tap-in of a pass from Jason Pominville while he stood in the low left slot 6:13 into the third period. He is the first player to get to 20 goals this season -- Philadelphia's Jeff Carter has 19 -- doing so in his 27th game.

Last season, Vanek did not score his 10th until his 31st game and did not tally his 20th until his 56th contest. He is on pace for 60 goals this season.

Vanek's goal capped the comeback from the 3-1 deficit, the second time in 11 days Buffalo came from behind to beat the Penguins 4-3.

The Sabres had lost three in a row at Mellon Arena, and this one was won on the penalty kill. The Penguins were only 1-for-8 on the power play, and the one goal came during a 5-on-3.

"The power play is not good," Therrien said. "We are trying to be too cute."

The Penguins enjoyed 3:35 of two-man advantage time during the game over three stretches, including a full two minutes midway through the second that could have given them a 4-2 lead.

"They didn't put too many pucks on the net; they tried to be a little too cute and go for an empty net," Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. "They had a couple chances but we did a good job with some big kills, especially the second 5-on-3."

The lone power-play goal of the game was Kris Letang's first such in 82 games. Also his first goal of any type in 37 contests, Letang converted a setup by Sidney Crosby while in the slot, extending Crosby's point streak to seven games.

That gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead after Fedotenko scored twice during the first period off pretty feeds from league scoring leader Malkin and second assists by Petr Sykora. It was the first time Fedotenko had scored twice in a game since Feb. 14.

"We played really good in the first period, we got a lead, and we just couldn't hold on to it," Fedotenko said.

In between Fedotenko's sixth and seventh of the season, Roy tallied his eighth at 11:07.

Kotalik scored his seventh about five minutes after Letang's goal on a play that was set up by Maxim Afinogenov. After the Sabres had killed the two-minute, two-man advantage, Paille tied the game with 5:11 to play in the second, his third of the season and first in 13 games, by slamming in a loose puck during a scrum in the slot.

"I thought our penalty killers did a good job," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We put ourselves in a pretty tight spot, let them have some 5-on-3s. There was some real good desperation."

"That," Vanek said of the 5-on-3 kill, "was a turning point. But I think 5-on-5, the last 40 minutes, we really took it to them."


  • Capitals RW Alexander Ovechkin scored his 20th during his 27th game last season en route to finishing with a league-best 65 goals.
  • Roy has a three-game point streak.
  • D Ben Lovejoy made his NHL debut for the Penguins and was a plus-1.
  • Malkin has 36 assists in 27 games, meaning he is on pace to become only the fourth player to record 100 in a single season.
  • Fedotenko has 250 career points.
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Thomas Vanek completes Buffalo's rally by beating Pittsburgh goaltender Dany Sabourin.  (US Presswire)
Thomas Vanek completes Buffalo's rally by beating Pittsburgh goaltender Dany Sabourin. (US Presswire)
Buffalo  (13-11-3) «1214
Pittsburgh (15-8-4)2103
Three Stars
D. Roy

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
R. Fedotenko

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
T. Vanek

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

Related Video

Scoring Summary
09:37Ruslan Fedotenko (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Malkin, Sykora
11:07Derek Roy (8), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
15:15Ruslan Fedotenko (7), Snap Shot. Assist: Malkin, Sykora
01:31Power Play - Kris Letang (1), Snap Shot. Assist: Crosby
06:40Ales Kotalik (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Mair, Afinogenov
14:49Daniel Paille (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Gaustad, MacArthur
06:13Thomas Vanek (19), Wrist Shot. Assist: Pominville, Hecht
Penalty Summary
03:02Afinogenov, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
07:06Orpik, 2 min, Hooking
18:03Pominville, 2 min, Hooking
19:40Vanek, 2 min, Delay of Game
19.0Hecht, 2 min, Tripping
09:14Vanek, 2 min, Interference
09:14Gerbe, 2 min, Bench - Abuse of Officials
18:22Malkin, 2 min, Roughing
18:22Malkin, 2 min, Cross-Checking
18:22MacArthur, 2 min, Roughing
06:43Goligoski, 2 min, Hooking
09:37Roy, 2 min, Tripping
13:23Gerbe, 2 min, High-Sticking
Shots On Goal
Ryan Miller59:44293
Dany Sabourin58:40254
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Game Information
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Referees - Tim Peel, Justin St. Pierre
Linesmen - Scott Cherrey, Ryan Galloway
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