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Crosby's three points help Penguins win

The SportsXchange

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- When Sidney Crosby gets going, the Pittsburgh Penguins are nearly unstoppable.

The Buffalo Sabres know that all too well.

Crosby had a goal and two assists to lead the Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Sabres Sunday afternoon at the First Niagara Center. He is now second in the NHL with 24 points on the season and has a point in each of his last 14 games against Buffalo.

"There are very few players in the game that, when you watch them, they do something and it's at a different level than everybody else," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "You see Sidney Crosby do some of those things, it's not ordinary. You realize you're watching somebody who's at a different level."

Crosby's most important contribution came with just over two minutes remaining and the score tied at 3-3. The forward was strong along the boards with the puck before moving inside and leaving the puck for defenseman Paul Martin, whose blast through traffic gave the Penguins the game-winning goal.

"He's a real good player," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Crosby. "He's around the puck, he's hard on the puck. I think we've seen him score a couple where he's had a couple bounce off the end wall and he's right there. He's got a knack for being in the right place."

Pascal Dupuis also had three points (two goals, one assist) for the Penguins, who improved to 11-5. Marc-Andre Fleury had 30 saves.

After winning eight of their last 10 games, the Penguins moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with 22 points.

"I think we're getting there," Crosby said. "We're starting to get a feel for the way we need to play, and I think everybody's getting a feel for roles and what's expected, but I still think that there's another level we can get to."

Steve Ott, Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson scored for Buffalo (6-9-1). Miller had 31 saves for the Sabres, who were understandably frustrated with the result. The Sabres battled back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the third period before Pittsburgh answered with two more goals.

"It's just a [bad] way to lose," Miller said. "I don't understand. Your guard has to be up at all times. They get right back in the game, one broken play to seal it for them. It's just preventable and not what we need to be doing right now."

"It's 3-3, get to overtime," the goalie added. "It's 3-2, make them come all the way down. We worked too hard. ... It burned us. It's not acceptable."

It took all of 87 seconds for the Penguins to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Dupuis tipped home Brooks Orpik's shot from the point 35 seconds into the game, and Crosby gave the Penguins a two-goal lead 52 seconds later on the power play. After Evgeni Malkin's shot bounced off the back boards, Crosby found an opening and put the puck in the net for his seventh of the season.

"I think clearly we had a good start," Bylsma said. "We came out, we capitalized with the first power play of the game to make it 2-0. I thought at that point in time, you score two early and there is one feeling that you might continue to go that way. But I thought they did a good job of settling into the game."

Hodgson got one back for the Sabres at the 6:32 mark. Hodgson, who lost the puck in the defensive zone prior to Pittsburgh's first goal, put a wrist shot past Fleury after collecting a rebound.

Vanek tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second period on his NHL-best 12th goal of the season. The Sabres took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play when Vanek redirected Christian Ehrhoff's pass through the slot 9:16 into the second.

Ott gave the Sabres their first lead of the game 5:17 into the third period. Ott scored after Nathan Gerbe's blocked shot deflected right to Ott in the left slot.

Dupuis answered a little less than two minutes later to tie the game at 3-3 with his second goal of the game, setting up Martin's game-winner.

Notes: Dustin Jeffrey, Zach Boychuk and Simon Despres were scratched by the Penguins. Mikhail Grigorenko, T.J. Brennan and Andrej Sekera were Buffalo's scratches. ... This was the first of three meetings between the two teams this season. ... It was the 171st game all-time between Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Heading into Sunday's game, Pittsburgh led the series with a 73-59-38 record.
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