PITTSBURGH (AP) – Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel beat Chad Johnson in a shootout and the Pittsburgh Penguins inched closer to a 10th straight playoff berth with a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Ben Lovejoy, Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl and Nick Bonino scored during a furious second-period as the Penguins climbed out of an early three-goal deficit. Rookie Matt Murray overcame a shaky start to finish with 26 saves, including a breakaway stop on Sabres rookie Jake Eichel in overtime.
Crosby assisted on Sheary’s goal to give him an NHL-best 20 points this month. The Penguins remained three points clear of the New York Islanders for third in the crowded Metropolitan Division.
Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist for the Sabres. Zach Bogosian, Matt Moulson, Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe also scored for Buffalo, and Johnson made 42 saves.
The slumping Sabres, much improved under former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, were no pushover. Current Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan has chastised his team for slow starts even as it plays its best hockey of the season, yet the Penguins fell into a familiar early rut.
Buffalo scored three times in the first 19 minutes before PIttsburgh made its resurgence in the second.