Surging Pittsburgh Penguins power past Buffalo Sabres

Apr 17, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) skates up ice with the puck as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) knocks it off his stick during the first period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Pittsburgh Penguins scored twice in the second period Saturday, then held on to beat Buffalo 3-2, eliminating the Sabres from playoff contention.

Jared McCann, Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust scored for Pittsburgh, which held a 3-1 lead after two periods. The Penguins are 4-0-1 in their past five games and are 5-0-0 this season against the Sabres.

Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry made 28 saves to improve to 10-1-2 in his past 13 starts.

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Tage Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt each scored for Buffalo, which is 5-3-2 in its past 10 games. The Sabres, who haven’t made the postseason since 2010-11, became the first team eliminated from the playoff chase this season.

Dustin Tokarski made 38 saves while playing in the absence of Linus Ullmark, who is out week-to-week because of an injury.

The Sabres played without winger Kyle Okposo, who had season-ending surgery to repair a broken bone in his cheek.

McCann opened the scoring at 10:30 of the first period.

Tokarski steered Mike Matheson’s shot from the left point toward the corner. McCann got the puck as it caromed off the end boards and sent a no-look pass from behind the goal line toward the net. It banked in off Tokarski’s side for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.

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Rodrigues upped the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 at 5:57 of the second period. Buffalo’s Dylan Cozens turned the puck over behind his net. Pittsburgh’s Teddy Blueger grabbed it and fed Rodrigues in the lower part of the left circle for the goal.

Thompson answered 44 seconds later to halve the deficit. His turning shot from the slot went between Jarry’s pads for his fifth goal in the last nine games.

On a Penguins power play, Rust scored to increase the lead to 3-1. Captain Sidney Crosby aimed for Rust’s stick in the low slot, and the latter deflected the puck past Tokarski’s glove.

Mittelstadt closed it to 3-2 with a power play goal at 11:44 of the third. From the slot, he one-timed a setup from defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen that sailed over Jarry’s left shoulder.

–Field Level Media