Crosby loses teeth, Penguins clinch playoff berth vs Sabres

Posted March 31, 2017

Mouths were agape when, as the seconds ticked off in the first period, Crosby turned on the jets, split a helpless quartet of Sabres defenders down the middle and scored his 41st goal of the season with an impossible one-handed backhand.

Of course, what shouldn't be ignored is Crosby's spear on Ryan O'Reilly earlier in the game.

Crosby was not in a position to speak after being high-sticked in the face by Evander Kane with 1:25 remaining while attempting to score into an empty net. Rasmus would hit Guentzel with the hit that Nicholas Kronwall became familiar for in Detroit. Just last week, the Arizona Coyotes lost a defenseman of their own - rookie Anthony DeAngelo - for an illegal boarding hit less than two minutes into their game against the St. Louis Blues. A Sabres team on the end of a back-to-back isn't going to do much here. Defensively, the Pittsburgh Penguins are allowing 2.7 goals per game and are killing 80.4 percent of their opponents power plays.

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Jake Guentzel was injured on a bad hit around nine minutes into the first period.

All in a game's time, the Pittsburgh captain, deemed the darling of referees everywhere, got away with a blatant penalty that fell on blind eyes and appeared to embellish another.

Just 1:58 later, Conor Sheary would add the insurance marker after a blazing burst of speed down the near wing. Breaking in on the left side, Sheary took an initial shot that was stopped by Lehner. The rebound caught Girgensons on the back check and went into Buffalo's net.

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Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand now is four goals behind Crosby for the league lead.

NOTES: Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said forwards Kyle Okposo (ribs) and William Carrier (knee) have resumed skating and have an opportunity to return within the next week.

Buffalo would get themselves on the board early in the third, thanks to Sam Reinhart, who was assisted by Hudson Fasching, who earned his first point of the season. Penguins C Evgeni Malkin skated at Pittsburgh earlier in the day but missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

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