Penguins 5, Sabres 1

The SportsXchange

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored highlight-reel goals to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Crosby and Malkin each scored in the second period to help the Penguins to their 40th victory of the season.

The Penguins reached the 40-win mark faster than any other team in franchise history. Pittsburgh has 40 wins through 57 games. Its previous franchise-best start was 40 wins in 65 games during the 1995-96 season.

Right winger James Neal, center Brian Gibbons and left winger Harry Zolnierczyk also scored for the Penguins (40-15-2) while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves.

Right winger Drew Stafford scored for the Sabres (15-33-8) while goalie Ryan Miller made 29 saves in defeat.

After forcing a turnover deep in the Penguins end, Stafford gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 5:58 into the first period when he poked home a loose puck beside the Pittsburgh net. Stafford now has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last six games.

It was all Pittsburgh after that. Zolnierczyk made it 1-1 with 4:59 remaining in the first when he beat Miller with a wrist shot to the blocker side from close range.

Crosby ended a five-game goal drought with a spectacular effort 2:08 into the second period to put Pittsburgh up 2-1. The Penguins captain burst past center Brian Flynn and defenseman Mike Weber before roofing a wrist shot above Miller and into the top right corner of the net for his 28th goal of the season.

Malkin made it 3-1 with 2:12 remaining in the second period on a spectacular goal of his own. Malkin sped past defenseman Jamie McBain for a breakaway and beat Miller with a slick deke to his forehand. It was Malkin's 17th goal of the season.

Gibbons increased Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1 5:22 into the third period with a quick wrist shot after a faceoff win in the Sabres end.

Neal made it 5-1 with a wrist shot from long range with 7:48 remaining.

NOTES: D Tyler Myers (lower body), C Ville Leino and C Zenon Konopka were scratched for the Sabres. Myers was injured in Buffalo's 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. ... RW Chuck Kobasew, LW Taylor Pyatt and D Kris Letang were scratched for the Penguins. ... This game featured 11 players who will play in the upcoming Winter Olympics: C Sidney Crosby (Canada), LW Chris Kunitz (Canada), C Evgeni Malkin (Russia), LW Jussi Jokinen (Finland), D Olli Maatta (Finland), D Paul Martin (U.S.), D Brooks Orpik (U.S.), G Ryan Miller (U.S.), G Jhonas Enroth (Sweden), D Henrik Tallinder (Sweden) and C Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia). Each team's head coach (Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh/U.S.; Ted Nolan, Buffalo/Latvia) will also make the trip to Sochi. ... This was the third and final meeting between the Sabres and Penguins this season.
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