The Penguins had won seven of the 11 times they’ve trailed after two periods this season, and were tied for the NHL lead in third-period goals coming in. But the Sabres reversed the tide, capturing a game they were behind in after 40 minutes by outscoring Pittsburgh 2-0 in the final period.
“They’re a great team and we know they have the firepower, but we stayed within our system and it paid off for us,” said Gaustad, who missed the first nine games of the season because of a thumb injury. “We didn’t run around and we stayed within ourselves. When we do that we’re a strong team and a hard team to play against.”
Gaustad’s second of the game came with 3:24 to go in regulation, and sent the Sabres (11-8-3) to their second straight win after losing five in a row.
With the score tied at 3, Gaustad charged the net and redirected Jason Pominville’s pass from the right circle for the winner.
“It’s great that we won but we have to put it behind us and stay consistent,” Gaustad said.
That’s something the Sabres have been unable to do this season. After busting out of the gate with an 8-2-2 mark, they’re currently in a 3-6-1 funk.
But after killing a two-man advantage for the first 52 seconds of the third period, the Sabres went to work and began to clamp down defensively while getting quality opportunities against Pittsburgh’s rookie goalie John Curry. Buffalo outshot the Penguins by a 10-3 margin in the decisive third period.
“Killing that completely killed any type of momentum they had or could have had,” Stafford said. “It all started there.”
Evgeni Malkin had two assists to boost his NHL-leading points total to 37, and Curry made 28 saves in his first career NHL start.
“You can’t blame him on any of the goals,” Crosby said. “He made some big saves and kept us in it. He did a great job.”
The Sabres tied it at 3 just 3:11 into the third on Stafford’s second goal of the game. Off the rush, Stafford redirected Thomas Vanek’s pass past Curry.
“It’s disappointing. Being my first start I wanted to get a win,” Curry said. “It just didn’t come out our way.”
Kennedy opened the scoring with his sixth of the season midway through the first period, but Stafford tied it just 56 seconds later.
The Sabres then took their first lead on Gaustad’s power-play goal at 12:21 of the second.
It was short-lived, though, as Crosby swatted the puck out of the air and into the net after Malkin’s shot bounced off the end boards 34 seconds later.
Crosby connected again with 56 seconds left in the second with his 10th to make it 3-2, wristing a shot past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller after Malkin stripped Buffalo defenseman Jaroslav Spacek of the puck in the neutral zone.
“The all-around game was as good as we’ve played since the start of the year,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Penguins D Philippe Boucher played one shift in the second period, then left the ice and didn’t return because of an undisclosed injury. He is day-to-day. … Miller finished with 27 saves. … The Sabres inducted Dave Andreychuk and former PA announcer Milt Ellis into their Hall of Fame in a ceremony that delayed the start by almost 10 minutes. … Buffalo completed its season-high four-game homestand with a 2-2 mark. … The teams will meet two more times over the next over the next 23 days. … The game also was delayed late in the first period when Vanek’s slap shot cracked a pane of glass.