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game recap

Penguins score two late to rally past Sabres

Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary help Pittsburgh complete three-goal comeback

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- After waiting nearly the entire regular season, Marc-Andre Fleury had his moment at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary scored late in the third period, and Fleury made 28 saves in relief to help the Pittsburgh Penguins rally past the Buffalo Sabres 4-3.

Fleury replaced Matt Murray in goal to start the second period. Murray made 18 saves on 21 shots.

"It's about the team, not me," Fleury said. "It was fun. The team played a lot better in the second and the third, so that helped me out, definitely. Just the support when I came back on the ice for the beginning of second from the fans. … They're good to me."

 

WATCH: All Sabres vs. Penguins highlights

 

After Sheary shot off Zach Bogosian, Guentzel raised his stick to deflect it past Anders Nilsson to tie it 3-3 with 3:46 remaining. After review, it was ruled Guentzel kept his stick below the crossbar.

Sheary gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead by shooting into an open left side of Buffalo's net with 2:56 left to complete the three-goal comeback.

Pittsburgh (40-16-8) has won its past two games after losing its previous two.

Buffalo (27-27-12, 66 points) is five points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Video: BUF@PIT: Schultz finds Sheary for late go-ahead goal

Ryan O'Reilly, Brian Gionta and Jack Eichel each scored in the first period to give the Sabres a 3-0 lead.

O'Reilly scored after Evander Kane intercepted a pass from Brian Dumoulin up the near wall. Kane passed to Gionta, who set up O'Reilly's wrist shot under the crossbar that gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead 6:19 into the first.

After Mark Streit nearly tied it 1-1 with 7:15 remaining in the first, Gionta extended the Sabres' lead to 2-0 on a power-play goal with 5:07 left and Eichel made it 3-0 with his 16th goal of the season with 1:53 remaining.

"In the first period, we got up with a good forecheck goal, a power-play goal and another offensive-zone goal," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We got up 3-0 in the game and they kind of plugged their way back in. … At that point, we had enough goals to win the game."

Justin Schultz cut it to 3-1 at 7:45 of the second period before he set up Evgeni Malkin for a power-play goal that made it 3-2 with 6:18 remaining in the period.

Video: BUF@PIT: Gionta puts home Moulson's centering pass

Nilsson made 41 saves for Buffalo.

"We've been struggling with leads all year," Nilsson said. "We got a 3-0 lead and we knew they were going to come out faster and come out harder in the second period. At the same time, I think we stepped back a little bit. Pittsburgh's a very good team. They have lots of world-class players and when you step back a little bit, they get to you."

 

Goal of the game

Guentzel's goal wasn't disputed in the Sabres locker room following the game. Eichel said that while Guentzel's stick was high, he couldn't definitively tell if it was above the crossbar.

"If it was us that scored the goal, I'm sure we would all be saying that it is a goal," Eichel said.

Video: BUF@PIT: Guentzel nets fancy redirect to tie the game

 

Save of the game

Kane went on a breakaway with a chance to give Buffalo a 4-1 lead at 8:21 of the second period. He went backhand to forehand, causing Fleury to fall forward, and attempted to wrap a shot around Fleury's right pad. Fleury slid to the right post and denied Kane with a toe save.

Video: BUF@PIT: Fleury robs Kane with lunging pad stop

 

Highlight of the game

Streit redirected a pass through Nilsson's five-hole in the first period, leading the crowd to cheer as if Pittsburgh had scored. During a review, it was determined Streit's shot never fully crossed the goal line before Jake McCabe scooped it away and sent the puck toward the neutral zone.

Video: BUF@PIT: McCabe dives, swipes puck away off goal line

 

Unsung performance of the game

Sidney Crosby didn't score for the Penguins, but was effective by leading Pittsburgh with nine shots. He also had two hits and one takeaway.

 

They said it

"I think I got to try to think through this whole experience tonight and figure out what to make of it, to be honest with you." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 

"We played aggressive in the first then we sat back and let them take it to us in the second and third. The tale of every game that we've played in the last few. So, nothing changes and we blow another lead." -- Sabres center Jack Eichel

Video: BUF@PIT: Foligno, Eichel combine for nifty goal

 

Need to know

Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov did not play after sustaining an upper-body injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Falk replaced Kulikov in the lineup. … Fleury played at PPG Paints Arena for the second time since Jan. 8. His other appearance came against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 16.

 

What's next

Sabres: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-PH, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; SN, ROOT, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Sheary's late goal propels Pens past Sabres, 4-3

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