BUFFALO -- Dustin Tokarski made 34 saves in his second start in back-to-back games to help the Buffalo Sabres defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 at KeyBank Center on Sunday.
Sam Reinhart scored twice, and Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Dahlin each had two assists for the Sabres (12-26-7), who split the two-game set following a 3-2 loss here Saturday that eliminated them from Stanley Cup Playoff contention. Buffalo is 3-1-1 in its past five games.
"Sometimes, you've just got to go out there and compete," Tokarski said. "I love going out there, battling. If there's some fatigue, you've just got to put it behind you because everyone's tired. The players are playing a ton of games too, so there's no excuses. Just got to go out there and play. The guys played awesome tonight."
Jason Zucker and Teddy Blueger scored, and Casey DeSmith made 25 saves for the Penguins (28-14-3), who had their five-game point streak end and fell one point behind the New York Islanders for second place in the MassMutual East Division.
"I didn't think we were very good tonight," Zucker said. "We didn't carry the play. I thought we had some good chances. But I don't think it was anything but work ethic. We weren't executing, and I think we could've been a little bit harder on our [defensive] zone, end some plays earlier and transition out of our zone. But you've got to give them credit. They played well. They outplayed us tonight."
Video: PIT@BUF: Ruotsalainen strikes 26 seconds into game
Arttu Ruotsalainen scored 26 seconds into the first period with a one-timer from the right face-off circle off a pass from Dylan Cozens on a 2-on-1 to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
"[Pittsburgh] came out really hot. Those guys did a good job of weathering it and got a play," Reinhart said. "Obviously could have gone two different ways, and those guys that started did a good job to get us off on the right foot."
Reinhart made it 2-0 at 2:18 of the second period. Olofsson forced a turnover by Evan Rodrigues near the Penguins blue line and sent a cross-ice pass to Reinhart, who scored from the right circle.
"I mentioned in the locker room after the second that … it looked like we were pressuring and we had kind of worn on them a little bit," Sabres coach Don Granato said. "They looked a little more tired than we did just in a quick review, and I mentioned that to our guys, the job they were doing to wear [them down].
"A little messy with the puck yesterday, and then we had to expend a lot of extra energy as a result. Our guys cleaned that up today and didn't have to expend that energy and they found more through the game, so it was real nice to see that and the reward that followed for them."
Video: PIT@BUF: Reinhart rifles wrist shot home from circle
Reinhart extended the lead to 3-0 at 8:02 of the third period when he beat DeSmith glove side from the right circle on the power play.
Zucker cut it to 3-1 at 10:18 with a shot from the slot following a face-off win by Jeff Carter. The assist was Carter's first point since being acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
Rasmus Asplund scored into an empty net to push the lead to 4-1 at 18:12, and Blueger scored with 24 seconds remaining for the 4-2 final.
"Maybe a little cause for concern in the sense that this time of year, we can't afford to come out flat like that," Blueger said. "I felt we were second to loose pucks, losing a lot of puck battles. I think that kind of cost us. I think in the sense that this time of year with about 10 games left and the playoff race the way it is, I think we've got to come out with more energy."
NOTES: Ruotsalainen's goal ended DeSmith's shutout streak against the Sabres at 180:18. … The Sabres defeated the Penguins in regulation at home for the first time since Feb. 19, 2012. Pittsburgh was 13-0-2 in its previous 15 games at Buffalo. … Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who was selected by Buffalo in the second round (No. 32) of the 2018 NHL Draft, had one shot on goal and two hits in 14:12 in his NHL debut.
Video: Reinhart nets two, Sabres end Penguins' point streak