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NHL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at Buffalo

(Friday, November 17th)

Final Score: Buffalo 4, Pittsburgh 2

Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Maxim Afinogenov, playing in his first game in nearly two weeks, scored once and had an assist to pace the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thomas Vanek, Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik also lit the lamp, and Martin Biron made 34 saves for the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres, who have won five of their last six games.

Afinogenov hadn't played since Nov. 4, and had missed Buffalo's last five games due to a shoulder injury.

"To get Max (Afinogenov) back was a big plus, he was our leading scorer when he went out of the lineup," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "Max gave us instant energy. Scored the goal on the (power play) and made several other very good plays in the game."

Sidney Crosby scored twice, Mark Recchi picked up two assists, and Jocelyn Thibault stopped 32-of-35 shots in the loss for the Penguins, who have dropped six of their last seven.

The Sabres nursed a two-goal cushion into the third period, but the Penguins kept their comeback effort alive by throwing 12 shots on net and putting constant pressure on the Buffalo defense in the offensive zone.

They would eventually solve Biron with 61 seconds left with Thibault headed to the bench. Michel Ouellet's centering feed from the left circle didn't reach the net, but Recchi's poke did, and Crosby followed up by banging home the rebound to cut the Sabre lead to 3-2.

However, any hopes for the game-tying goal were halted for good when Kotalik took a missed empty-net attempt off the back boards and scored with 45 seconds remaining.

Buffalo grabbed a 1-0 lead on a power-play tally with 6:06 gone in the first. Daniel Briere slipped a saucer pass over two sticks from the left to the right side along the goal line to Afinogenov, who wristed the puck home before Thibault could get his pad against the near post.

That lead doubled to 2-0 at the nine minute mark of the second, when Vanek took a third rebound chance off a goal-mouth scramble and scored on a turn- around shot that sailed over a fallen Thibault.

It was a 3-0 game just 2:28 later, with the Sabres enjoying another man advantage. Jochen Hecht set up behind the net and fed Jason Pominville waiting at the right faceoff dot. Thibault stopped his shot just off the near post, but the rebound came to a wide-open Drury, who popped the puck into the net for his first goal in ten games.

Pittsburgh finally got on the board at 15:14, when Crosby accepted a Recchi feed in the left circle, and scored through a tiny hole on the short side between the post and Biron's blocker.

"I think two or three periods doesn�t cut it, especially against a team like this," Crosby said about Pittsburgh's inconsistent effort. "I think it�s good to see when we play our game even against a strong team like Buffalo we get good results but we�ve got to look at it the other way and say two or three periods is not a complete game."

Game Notes

Buffalo swept four meetings against Pittsburgh last season and is 6-0-1 in the last seven clashes...The Pens have in lost four straight trips to upstate New York...Briere has scored a point in 18-of-19 games...Vanek has scored six goals in his last six games...Crosby's two goals tied him with Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins' team lead with nine...Buffalo finished 2-of-4 on the power play, while Pittsburgh was scoreless in its six tries...Buffalo's Derek Roy will be out up to two weeks because of a hand injury.

11/18 01:46:08 ET

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