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Fleury, Penguins blank Sabres

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Miller had one of his better games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he still couldn't outperform Marc-Andre Fleury.

Fleury made 24 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season and lead Pittsburgh to a 3-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday at Consol Energy Center.

With Pittsburgh leading 2-0 early in the third period, Fleury made two key saves to keep Buffalo off the board.

Brian Flynn found himself alone in front of the Pittsburgh net 2:33 into the period and forced Fleury to sprawl out of position on a wrist shot. Flynn collected his rebound and sent it through the crease, where it slid under Fleury's pad and clear of the net.

Matt Moulson had a similar opportunity 1:41 later after Tyler Ennis delivered a pass from the right boards to send Moulson in alone against Fleury. Moulson deked to his right and came back to his left before attempting a wrist shot, but Fleury flashed his right pad to keep the puck out of the net.

"We haven't played them in a while, especially with the new coach," Fleury said. "It wasn't maybe the most entertaining game to watch, but they came out hard. It was good. Nobody panicked. Everybody played their game. It was a good win."

Tanner Glass scored an empty-net goal with 27.4 seconds left to seal the win for the Penguins.

The Penguins dominated play through the first two periods, but it didn't show on the scoreboard until Chris Kunitz scored the game's first goal 5:44 into the second.

After Sidney Crosby backhanded a shot that caused Miller to fall forward, Brian Gibbons' shot at an open net hit the left post. The puck ricocheted to Kunitz to the right of the net, and he backhanded a shot over Miller, who was still down on the ice, for his 26th goal.

"We should want to go out and have our best shift every single time we step on the ice," Kunitz said. "It shouldn't matter who the opponent is; it shouldn't matter what the score is. We should go and try and get better every single night. We have to grow as a team and get better in those areas."

Kunitz, who trails Crosby by one goal for the team lead, tied his career high for goals in a season, matching his output from the 2011-12 season. With an assist, Crosby extended his scoring streak against the Sabres to 16 games (25 points).

Deryk Engelland stretched Pittsburgh's lead to 2-0 with 7:55 remaining in the second. He forced a turnover in the Sabres zone and dropped the puck off to Glass, who sent a pass through to forward Craig Adams.

Adams moved the puck to Engelland, who was skating on the fourth line Monday, up from his usual spot on the blue line, and Engelland finished the play with a wrist shot for his fourth goal of the season.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan wasn't pleased with Buffalo's effort in the second period.

"We're a team that we can't have glaring mistakes. It's very demoralizing," Nolan said. "I think it demoralized us for a little bit. We woke up in the third period, we made a push, but not good enough."

Miller, who entered Monday with a 3.26 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in 23 career starts against the Penguins, allowed two goals on 10 second-period shots after denying Pittsburgh of a goal on 15 shots in the first.

"Every game is independent; every game is new," Miller said. "They've had a good team here for a while, and I suppose that's kind of how it's gone."

Pittsburgh controlled the first period, but Miller ensured the game remained scoreless entering the first intermission. Buffalo faced the NHL's top-ranked power-play unit (24.3 percent) after defenseman Henrik Tallinder was called for delay of game midway through the first, but Miller made stops on clear opportunities from Crosby, James Neal and Evgeni Malkin, who played in his 500th NHL game Monday.

The Sabres held a 4-3 shot advantage 7:24 into the period, but allowed 10 unanswered shots during an 8:45 stretch, which included a power play, that allowed Pittsburgh to control the pace. The Penguins finished the period with a 15-5 lead in shots.

Pittsburgh lost games to the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars over the past week, and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he thought the team did a better job of not looking past its opponent Monday night.

"I'm never going to look at a game, Florida and/or Dallas and say, 'Chalk it up,'" Bylsma said. "You can look at a lot of different things … the standings, the points and the gap and traveling from Long Island to Dallas. Sometimes that happens in the course of a season where you look at that and we didn't play well; we didn't play well in Dallas.

"We got back home here and came out on the better side of the game and played the right way."

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