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game recap

Letang, Penguins defeat Sabres in shootout

Defenseman sets new career-high playing 35:14; Pittsburgh moves one point behind Rangers for second place

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

Letang beats Johnson in shootout

BUF@PIT: Letang slips the puck between Johnson's legs

3/29/16: Kris Letang gets the Penguins on the board in the shootout by sending the puck through Chad Johnson's legs and into the net

  • 00:25 •

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins relied on depth to fuel a come-from-behind 5-4 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday. 

Kris Letang and Phil Kessel scored in the shootout after four Penguins scored in the second period to erase a three-goal deficit.

After Sidney Crosby and Ryan O'Reilly failed to score in the first round, Letang scored in the second after playing a career-high 35:14. Kessel sealed the victory by going backhand to forehand in the third round. Penguins goalie Matthew Murray, who made 26 saves, stopped Jack Eichel in the second round. 

"I want a rest, that's for sure," Letang said. "For us, in the situation that we are in, I don't think it really matters who we're playing. The points are all really precious."

Video: BUF@PIT: Pens net two shorthanded goals in 24 seconds

Murray forced the shootout by denying Eichel on a breakaway with 28.1 seconds remaining in overtime. Eichel attempted the same move on his breakaway and shootout attempts, but Murray said the situations were slightly different. 

"I think the backpressure makes it a bit different," Murray said. "You come in with a little more speed when there's a guy riding your tail and in the shootout, you can come in slow, say like [Letang] did, and that can throw off a goalie pretty bad. So, same kind of idea, but you just want to try to stay on top of him and try to force him to make the first move." 

The Penguins (43-25-8) are one point behind the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division after handing the Sabres (31-35-11) a second loss in as many nights. 

Facing a 3-0 deficit, Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy began a four-goal surge with his fourth goal of the season 1:28 into the second period to cut the Sabres' lead to 3-1.

Video: BUF@PIT: O'Reilly cleans up rebound for SHG

Conor Sheary cut into the lead further when he stole the puck away from Josh Gorges and Zemgus Girgensons, who were battling with Beau Bennett in the corner, before slowly driving to the net and shooting into the upper-left corner behind Sabres goalie Chad Johnson, making it 3-2 at 5:55 of the second. 

Johnson finished with 42 saves. 

Tom Kuhnhackl and Nick Bonino scored shorthanded goals 24 seconds apart to give the Penguins a 4-3 lead entering the intermission. 

With Pittsburgh forward Eric Fehr in the penalty box for tripping, Matt Cullen and Kuhnhackl went on a 2-on-1 facing Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Cullen set up Kuhnhackl for a one-timer that tied the game 3-3 with 1:13 remaining in the second.

Video: BUF@PIT: Rust feeds Lovejoy for goal on the rush

Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Johnson stood with the puck behind his net and his back to Pittsburgh forward Carl Hagelin, who poked the puck away from Johnson and backhanded a pass to Bonino in front of the net for an uncontested goal with 48.7 seconds left in the period. 

"It's one of those things where we had a good first period, but we kind of got away from what we were doing good in the second and they made us pay," Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe said. "They're a good team. They're in the playoff hunt and they want to get points and move up the standings. So, it was a disappointing second period." 

Zach Bogosian tied the game at 4-4 when he one-timed a pass from Johan Larsson by Murray's glove 2:13 into the third period. 

"I liked the way our team came back in the third period," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We regrouped, were down in the game and had to fight back and claw back."

Video: BUF@PIT: Larsson feeds Bogosian for power-play goal

Matt Moulson opened the scoring when his backhander off of a rebound went past Murray 9:26 into the first period. 

David Legwand made it 2-0 after he backhanded a shot that trickled through Murray's five-hole. Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley swiped the puck away just before it could cross the goal line, but his attempted save ricocheted off Kessel and to O'Reilly, who shot into an open net with 5:55 remaining in the first. 

McCabe scored Buffalo's third backhanded goal of the period with 1:02 left in the first. 

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Pittsburgh's response to the first period is indicative of his players' character. 

"We talked about how we've come back and climbed back into games when we've been down, not just one goal but multiple goals, and that we're capable of it," Sullivan said." I think it galvanizes the group when you have these types of games and you're able to defy the odds, so to speak, and climb back in and find ways to win."

Video: Penguins storm back and edge Sabres in shootout, 5-4

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