BUFFALO -- Patric Hornqvist scored twice for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday.
Evgeni Malkin had two assists, and Matt Murray made 28 saves for the Penguins (39-21-6), who have won two in a row after a six-game losing streak. Pittsburgh trails the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers by three points for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
"I think our response in the third period was huge for us," Hornqvist said. "We didn't have a great second, but we came back in the third and played a really hard, solid team effort. That's what it's going to come down to here in the stretch, to work for each other. We can have some bad shifts once in a while, but if we stay with our process and trust each other, we'll be fine."
[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Sabres highlights]
Jake McCabe and Marcus Johansson scored, and Jonas Johansson made 28 saves for the Sabres (29-30-8), who have lost five straight while being outscored 19-9.
"We definitely created enough chances to score goals, and I think for a lot of that game we were the better team," Johansson said. "Second period, we played really well and we pressured them and pushed them back, but we come out empty-handed out of that period and it's frustrating when it's like that. But you know, winning hockey games, you've got to score more goals than the other team, and we didn't do that."
Hornqvist put Pittsburgh ahead 1-0 at 7:56 of the first period with a backhand while falling down after Nick Bjugstad crashed into Johansson. Sabres coach Ralph Krueger challenged the play for goaltender interference, but the call was upheld after a video review.
Video: PIT@BUF: Hornqvist knocks puck in while falling down
McCabe intercepted Bryan Rust's pass in the neutral zone before lifting a backhand on a shorthanded breakaway to tie it 1-1 at 9:01.
Marcus Pettersson's one-timer from the left point made it 2-1 at 12:26.
Hornqvist took a pass by Malkin from below the goal line as he drove to the net to push it to 3-1 on the power play at 13:32 of the second period. It was Pittsburgh's first shot on goal of the period after Buffalo had the first six.
"Our guys really root for him," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's such an emotional leader on our team. I've never been around a guy who has as much energy as [Hornqvist] does. He's always vocal on the bench, he's vocal in between periods. He's just a great teammate."
Video: Clutch Performance: Hornqvist buries two beauties
Johansson cut it to 3-2 from the high slot at 1:57 of the third period, but Sidney Crosby scored with a backhand from the right circle on a rush to extend the lead to 4-2 at 6:02.
"We had eight, nine top scoring chances in the second period, but we don't bury any and so when you're not getting rewarded for that, it's tough to sustain that," Krueger said. "We let up a touch in the third and we just never got that exact drive back. But again, there's signs there of the game we need to play and the game we need to work to carry out for 60 minutes."
They said it
"When we got those two defensemen back, it helps. [Brian Dumoulin], he's a world-class defenseman, and John [Marino] is going to be one, too. But the other guys who played, they did really well, too, and that showed how deep this organization is. We've been through a lot of injuries, but we stick with it. When we play simple and hard, we're hard to beat." -- Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist on having defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino back in the lineup
"You've got to get dirty ones, greasy ones. It's got to go in off skates, shin pads, rear ends, chest, whatever. You name it, you've just got to keep getting pucks and traffic to the net and try to get one of those that bounce in for us if it's not going to come the pretty way. Just keep peppering away." -- Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe
Need to know
Pittsburgh is 10-0-2 in its past 12 games at Buffalo, setting a Penguins record for the longest road point streak against any opponent. … Marino was plus-1 in 19:58 of ice time in his second game after missing the previous 11 because of a facial fracture. Dumoulin was plus-1 in a game-high 24:16 playing in his second game after missing the previous 37 games because of a left ankle tendon laceration. … Bjugstad played 11:02 and had an assist in his return after missing the previous 46 games because of core muscle surgery. … Sabres center Jack Eichel doesn't have a point and is minus-8 in his past six games.
Penguins: Host the Washington Capitals on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, ATTSN-PT, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)
Sabres: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, MSG-B, NHL.TV)
Video: Hornqvist tallies twice to help Penguins top Sabres