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game recap

Crosby's three points lift Penguins past Sabres for fifth win in row

Forward has two goals, assist; Letang returns for Pittsburgh 12 days after having stroke

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Recap: PIT 3, BUF 1

Crosby's two goals spark Penguins past Sabres

Sidney Crosby scored two goals and added an assist in the Penguins' 3-1 victory against the Sabres

  • 05:01 •

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist, and the Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to five games by defeating the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

Kris Letang, who returned to the lineup 12 days after having a stroke, led Pittsburgh with 22:14 of ice time. 

"It was great," Letang said. "I was getting anxious to get back out there. With the schedule, we don't have the chance to practice that much. Tried to prepare the best I could."

Jake Guentzel had two assists and Casey DeSmith made 37 saves in his first start since Nov. 26 for the Penguins (16-8-4), who are 10-1-1 in their past 12 games.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 28 saves, and Peyton Krebs scored for the Sabres (12-14-2), who lost 4-3 in overtime to Pittsburgh on Friday in the first of the home-and-home.

"This game, for sure, we gave up four minutes on the power play, or two power plays, to them early. Had to kill two penalties," Buffalo coach Don Granato said. "That got the crowd in it, it got them energized. ... We could have got more traffic and we could have had a greater shot mentality."

Video: BUF@PIT: Crosby buries a sweet backhander in the 1st

Rickard Rakell put the Penguins ahead 1-0 on a power play at 4:22 of the first period. After kicking a one-timer from Crosby out to the right face-off circle, Luukkonen saved another from Evgeni Malkin but could not get back to stop Rakell's in the opposite circle.

Crosby made it 2-0 at 6:51, receiving a bank pass from Guentzel behind the net and scoring with a backhand at the left post.

"I think you just want to start well, if you can," Crosby said. "Nice to be at home on the second half of [a home-and-home] and get a good start. They pushed back I thought, but we definitely had some good chances."

Tyson Jost had a chance to cut into Pittsburgh's lead at 12:35 of the second, getting to a rebound with DeSmith scrambling in the crease, but shot off the side of an open net.

Krebs was able to cut it to 2-1 at 11:00 of the third, tipping a redirection from Kyle Okposo off a one-timer from Casey Fitzgerald.

"We know the type of team we are and how we can play," Krebs said. "That first period wasn't our best. We went into the room and we just allowed ourselves to stay calm and get to our game. I think in the second and third we dominated them. Just couldn't get the job done tonight."

Video: BUF@PIT: Crosby scores his second goal of the game

Buffalo outshot the Penguins 17-9 in the third.

"Just maybe a little more desperation being down two goals and trying to throw everything at the net and get there," Okposo said. "It's just the way the third period played out. It would've been nice to draw a couple there, a couple more power plays, but that's the way it shook out tonight."

Crosby pushed it to 3-1 with 1:38 remaining when he raced through the neutral zone and shot glove side off a pass from Guentzel. He leads Pittsburgh with 17 goals in 28 games, including 11 in his past 13.

"He has to be in the conversation (for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP), in my opinion," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's the leading goal-scorer in the League 5-on-5. He has such a mature game. He plays on both sides of the puck. … I think he's the most complete player in the game, if you ask me."

NOTES: Pittsburgh defenseman Jeff Petry said he was fine after leaving with 1:51 remaining in the third following a hit into the boards by Sabres forward Alex Tuch. … Buffalo forward Jeff Skinner was serving the first of a three-game suspension for cross-checking Guentzel on Friday. … Penguins forward Ryan Poehling had two shots on goal and four hits in 14:05 of ice time after missing two games with an upper-body injury. … Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He is week to week. … It was Crosby's 165th game with at least three points in the NHL, passing Jari Kurri for ninth in NHL history.

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