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game recap

Penguins keep pace in Metropolitan with shutout against Sabres

DeSmith makes 26 saves, remain third in division

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

Crosby, Kessel combine for PPG

PIT@BUF: Crosby sets up Kessel for a power-play goal

Phil Kessel gets to the net and one-times a great pass from Sidney Crosby into the twine for a power-play goal

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BUFFALO -- Casey DeSmith made 26 saves for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

Phil Kessel, Nick Bjugstad and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (39-23-9), who remained two points behind the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

"The team's been playing awesome, obviously, and then they didn't do anything different tonight," DeSmith said. "They were great again tonight. It was definitely a team shutout, team win."


[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Sabres highlights]


Carter Hutton made 23 saves for the Sabres (30-31-9), who were shut out for the third game in a row and lost a season-high sixth straight game.

"We gave up two power-play goals and a point shot with an unbelievable screen by them," Buffalo forward Jason Pominville said. "That's winning hockey. That's what we've got to get back to. We've got to have more pride to get to that area, get our nose dirty. I mean, it's a tough league to score in. You've got to pay a price to get to the net, and we've got to get pucks there. Right now, we're definitely not doing it enough."

Video: DeSmith earns Thursday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

Kessel received a cross-ice pass from Sidney Crosby in the bottom of the right circle to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead on the power play at 6:40 of the second period. Brian Dumoulin made it 2-0 at 15:07 after Evgeni Malkin circled the zone and passed to the defenseman.

"Just a great pass by [Malkin]. He found me coming down to the slot," Dumoulin said. "He's such a great player, put it in my wheelhouse and I just tried to get it to the net."

The power play scored a second time to extend the lead to 3-0. Kessel's pass hit Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and Hornqvist got to the loose puck at the top of the crease to score with a backhand at 17:08.

"They're a very opportunistic team, they don't need many opportunities and they capitalize," Buffalo coach Phil Housley said. "We get a power play, we're outshooting them 9-2, and we have our opportunities to tie the game up or get within one. That's just where we're at right now as a team. We're squeezing it."

Video: PIT@BUF: Hornqvist flips in a loose puck for a PPG

Bjugstad's shot from the right circle made it 4-0 at 10:07 of the third period. Guentzel pushed it to 5-0 when he deflected Zach Trotman's point shot, again on the power play, at 18:02.

"I think when we're playing our best hockey it's really hard to stop us out there," Hornqvist said of the power play, which went 3-for-4. "We move the puck really quick. ... When those kind of players get that kind of time, that's when they can do that, and right now it's clicking for us."


They said it

"He's just such a great player, he's such an accomplished player. I think this is his favorite time of year, and he's shown an ability to elevate his game when the stakes are the highest, and he plays his best on the biggest stage and he's done it time and time again. It doesn't surprise me that he's at the top of his game right now." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on captain Sidney Crosby

"Consistency's been an issue ... but we've got to find something, we've got to find some jam in our game and our attitude and in the way that we approach the game, because that can't happen, especially at home the last two games." -- Sabres forward Kyle Okposo

Video: PIT@BUF: DeSmith stones Sheary in close


Need to know

Crosby has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in his past 10 games. ... The Penguins extended their point streak at Buffalo to 11 games (9-0-2) and have earned a point against them in 18 straight overall (15-0-3).


What's next

Penguins: Host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

Sabres: At the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: Penguins ride balanced effort, DeSmith to 5-0 win

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