Buffalo, NY (AP) — Tage Thompson had two goals in regulation and scored in the shootout, Alex Touch also scored a shootout goal, and the Buffalo Sabers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 for their third straight win on Wednesday night. .
Zemgus Girgensen also scored in regulation for the Sabers, who have won five out of six in their best stretch of the season.
“Guys aren’t getting comfortable with a game or two,” Girgensen said. “It was a fun game to play against a good team. Kind of a playoff type of game. It was back and forth.”
The Sabers won three consecutive matches for the first time since starting the season 3–0–0. They have never been behind at any point in those three victories, and have responded every time the Penguins united to tie.
“We definitely deserved a win there,” Thompson said. “Earlier in the season, we would probably have been in similar situations and might have folded, or let it spin out of control. I think we’ve done a good job of sticking with the game plan lately, no matter what happens with the score.”
Thompson scored his team’s 27th goal to put Sabers 3-2 a minute ahead in the third period, once a pass from Touche in front of the right circle.
Craig Anderson made 23 saves and blocked both shots he faced in the shootout for his sixth win in eight starts.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin each had one goal and one assist for the Penguins, who won three in a row. Chris Letang scored Pittsburgh’s second goal, Brian Rust made two assists, and Casey Desmith intercepted 29 shots. Playing the second night back-to-back, Pittsburgh began a two-game journey, dropping their league-best road record to 21-7-5.
“It was a tough match, but I don’t think we did our best,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “It was one of those nights where it was a struggle.”
Letang tied it for the Penguins on the power play and had 4:56 left in the third. A passing precision from Crosby and Malkin set Letang at the top of the right circle for his seventh goal.
“We fought hard in third place to get that point,” Letang said. “It was important to get it. Especially with the race we are in right now for home ice, and at the top, it is very tight.”
The Penguins got a second goal to tie with Crosby and Malkin and a closing goal. Crosby netted his 23rd in this period on a 26-second power play. Malkin made his 13th score with 1:14 remaining when his backhand pass hit Anderson’s stick and Sabers defenseman Henry Jokiharju’s leg before bouncing off the net.
Girgensen gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with 4:04 in the second, converting up front on a feed from Kyle Okoposo. It was his eighth season of the season for Girgensen and his first in four games since missing an undisclosed injury in seven weeks.
Thompson’s first goal was set from behind the net by a pass from Mattias Samuelsson, with 2:45 remaining in the first.
All three games of the season series went into overtime, with the Sabers winning 2–1 at Pittsburgh on November 16, and the Penguins winning 3–2 at home on December 17.
Sullivan said the rising Sabers have recently proved difficult to beat.
“They have a lot of young talent, and they are playing with a free spirit,” he said. “For those types of teams, it’s hard to play against them at this time of year.”
Anderson was recognized for becoming the 39th NHL goalkeeper with 300 wins in a pregame event. Sabers general manager Kevin Adams presented a golden stick and commemorative jersey to the 19-year-old veteran, who has won games for six franchises.
US women’s national team member Hayley Skamura was shown on a video scoreboard wearing a silver medal during a pause in the period before the Beijing Olympics last month. Skamura, a western New York native, plays for the Buffalo Beauties in the NWHL.
PENGUIN: End the trip Friday night at the New York Rangers.
Saber: Host the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
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