Ales Kotalik’s third-period goal was the difference as Buffalo held off Pittsburgh, 3-2, Tuesday night at Mellon Arena.
It was Buffalo’s first win in Pittsburgh since Dec. 2, 2000. The Sabres were 0-5-2 until Tuesday.
It was the third loss in a row for the Penguins (7-12-6), who travel to New York to meet the Rangers on Thursday.
The Penguins out shot the Sabres, 32-27, and had two additional quality scoring chances, but a Ziggy Palffy shot hit a post in the second period and goalie Martin Biron robbed Sidney Crosby with a diving stick save in the first.
“We’re creating a lot,” Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. “The consistency aspect of finishing is what we’re concerned about.”
Pittsburgh’s Matt Murley scored 4:59 into the game for his first tally of the season. He picked up a loose puck behind the net and fired it past Martin Biron. Mark Recchi and John LeClair earned the assists.
“It is pretty easy to play with two guys like that,” Murley said. “I was just trying to go to the net. It’s been a long time [since I last scored]. I wish it would have come in a win and I wish I could’ve got a couple more to help us win.
“Everything was going alright, but we just came up a little short. If we play like this the rest of the year, we’ll get our fair share of wins.”
Buffalo’s Maxim Afinogenov knotted the game at 1-1 with 8:04 left in the period. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Derek Roy’s initial shot, but the rebound bounced off Fleury and landed in the slot, where Afinogenov one-timed it into the goal.
Paul Gaustad’s goal gave the Sabres (15-9-1) a 2-1 lead over the Penguins at the second intermission. He roofed a shot over Fleury’s right shoulder just inside the post 11:41 into the period.
Palffy nearly gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead about 9:00 into the second period, but his shorthanded shot clanged off the far post.
LeClair one-timed a Recchi pass for a power-play goal 1:33 into the third period. Sergei Gonchar notched the other assist.
Kotalik put the Sabres back up, 3-2, with a power-play goal 5:43 into the period. His shot slipped under Fleury’s leg pad.
“I did think the third goal was a soft goal,” Olczyk said. “Overall, I think [Fleury] brought energy to our team. He made some good saves. He made a real good save early in the period. I didn’t see any nervousness in him at all. Again, we need to get the big save at the key time.”
ICE CHIPS: Ric Jackman, Lyle Odelein and Jocelyn Thibault were the Penguins’ scratches…Andrew Peters and Daniel Briere were the Sabres’ scratches…The announced attendance was 15,118…Sidney Crosby did not record a point. It marks the first time in his career he went two games without recording at least one point.