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Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Buffalo Sabres 3 FINAL OT @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - After all the pretty scoring chances Buffalo Sabres forward Jochen Hecht had, it was the ugly one that proved to be the difference.

Hecht jammed in a loose puck from in close with 20 seconds left in overtime, lifting Buffalo to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

``I just whacked it in and it trickled in over the line, barely,'' Hecht said. ``Finally, something went in.''

The goal came on Hecht's game-high seventh shot on net and after goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had stopped 38 of the 40 shots he had faced.

Tim Connolly set it up, when he put the puck on net from a bad angle from the right boards. Fleury used his skate to trap the puck against the post when Hecht took several jabs at it before it trickled in.

``Just to go in there and hack away at it is the key to that goal,'' coach Lindy Ruff said. ``And we stayed with it. It was easy to get frustrated after missing the amount of chances we missed. ... Just keep grinding, keep working.''

Defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick and rookie Paul Gaustad, with the first of his career, also scored for Buffalo, while Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots. The Sabres (3-1-0) have opened the season with three straight home wins for the first time since winning their first five in 1984-85.

But what's wrong with the talent-laden Penguins?

They are off to an 0-1-3 start, incapable of finding a clutch goal from a lineup that includes Mario Lemieux, John LeClair, Zigmund Palffy and rookie phenom Sidney Crosby.

The loss was Pittsburgh's third straight decided in a shootout or overtime, and comes after the Penguins squandered a two-goal lead in a 7-6 overtime loss to Boston on Saturday.

``It's disappointing,'' Lemieux said. ``Any time you start a season, you want to start well. We've lost in overtime and in shootouts. It's just the way it's going.''

Palffy and Mark Recchi both had a goal and an assist while Crosby, the overall No. 1 draft pick, had an assist, giving him a point (one goal, five assists) in each of the Penguins four games.

``We're close,'' Crosby said. ``We have to make sure we keep plugging. It's just a matter of getting that one more goal.''

Fleury did everything he could to keep the Penguins in, stopping 16 of 17 shots in the second period alone.

Fleury, the first player selected in the 2003 draft, made his first start of the season, filling in after Jocelyn Thibault hurt his knee in practice on Saturday.

Buffalo, coming off a 5-0 loss at Ottawa on Saturday, got a lift from its fourth-liners in a game the Sabres never trailed.

Mike Grier, with a cross-ice pass, set up Fitzpatrick, who was pinching in from the point, to open the scoring three minutes in. Then Gaustad converted a rebound in front, wrapping it in behind a fallen Fleury midway through the second.

``All camp we've been saying everybody's got to do a little bit of everything,'' Gaustad said. ``It's a team effort every night and I think that's how we're going to win.''

The Penguins responded four minutes later on a broken play in front of the Sabres net. Crosby, in the slot, fanned while slapping at a bouncing puck, which dribbled to Recchi to the left of the net. Catching Miller leaning the wrong way, Recchi snapped a shot that went in high on the short side.

Miller's best stops came early in the third period when he got a pad out to foil Crosby on a partial break and, seconds later, stood his ground to stop Recchi in close.

Notes: Lemieux made only his second regular-season appearance at Buffalo since 1996-97. It was the sixth of his career, a span in which he's registered one assist. ... Crosby was issued his first career penalty, an interference call for shoving Sabres D Teppo Numminen going after a loose puck at 13:24 of the first period. ... Sabres D Dmitri Kalinin made his season debut after missing the first three games with a groin injury.

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