Quite a few times Sunday, the fans from Pittsburgh who invaded First Niagara Center chanted, "Let's go, Pens." Not surprisingly, the visiting team listened.
The Penguins continued their domination of the Sabres, earning their eighth straight win in the series with a 4-3 victory. It's the best stretch by either team in the history of their rivalry. Pittsburgh has outscored Buffalo, 33-9, during the streak, which began Oct. 5, 2013.
The Penguins improved to 15-6-1 in their last 22 games. The Sabres fell to 3-1-1 in their last five and dropped to 11-17-3.
O’Reilly injured: For the first time this season, Ryan O’Reilly didn’t play. It won’t be the last time. The center suffered a foot injury Friday in Columbus, and coach Dan Bylsma said O’Reilly will be out three to four weeks.
Shutout streak ends: The Penguins opened the scoring with 9:09 gone on a great tip by Patric Hornqvist. As goaltender Robin Lehner tracked Trevor Daley’s point shot toward the middle of the net, Hornqvist reached out and redirected the puck to the corner Lehner just vacated. It was the first goal against Lehner in 126:59, a career-best streak.
Bogosian mimics NASA: An absolute rocket by Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian tied the game, 1-1, with 6:12 left in the first. Mark Pysyk slid a pass into Bogosian’s wheelhouse, and the hard shot whistled past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. It was Bogosian’s first power-play goal since Dec. 31, 2011.
Cross-ice pass part one: The Penguins opened a 2-1 lead with 5:28 gone in the second with pinpoint passing in the Sabres’ zone. Derrick Pouliot fed fellow defenseman Kris Letang, who sent a cross-ice pass to wide-open Scott Wilson. The forward went top shelf with plenty of time to pick a spot.
Cross-ice pass part two: Letang set up another teammate on the opposite side of the zone, this time finding a wide-open Phil Kessel. The sniper had time to wait for Lehner to go down, then had time to wait for the goalie to be out of position before easily making it 3-1 with 2:10 left in the second.
Slip, sliding away: The Penguins’ Matt Cullen skated in alone on Lehner while short-handed midway through the third, and the goaltender nearly won the one-on-one. He stopped the shot, but his momentum kept him rolling toward the goal line. The puck kept going, too. It squirted free into the net with 12:08 to play to make the score 4-1.
Quick answer: The Sabres scored their second power-play goal of the afternoon just 13 seconds after Cullen’s goal. Captain Brian Gionta, planted in front, tipped Bogosian’s shot to trim the Sabres’ deficit to 4-2 with 11:55 remaining.
Making it close: Bogosian's point shot with 21.4 seconds left found the net as the Sabres had the goalie pulled for an extra attacker. It was Bogosian's third two-goal game and first since Oct. 29, 2009.
Penalty killers roll on: Buffalo went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill to extend a 21-game hot streak. The Sabres have killed 57 of 62 penalties (91.9 percent).
Bailey’s back: With O’Reilly’s injury leaving the Sabres a man short up front, they summoned right wing Justin Bailey from Rochester. The Williamsville native skated on the first line with left wing Evander Kane and center Sam Reinhart in his fifth NHL game.
Larsson gets Crosby: O’Reilly normally lines up against the opponent’s top line, so the Sabres needed a new shutdown center. They called upon Johan Larsson and wingers Gionta and Marcus Foligno to cover Sidney Crosby. Crosby, who entered the day with 44 points in his last 37 games, registered the secondary assist on Pittsburgh’s opening goal. He has 14 goals, 34 assists and 48 points in 30 career games against the Sabres.
Crosby goes WWE: In a textbook back body drop that would make any professional wrestler proud, Crosby flipped Nicolas Deslauriers when the Sabres forward went for a hit late in the first period. Crosby, who was crouched, caught Deslauriers in the midsection and stood up to flip the forward onto his back.
Keeping Fleury busy: The Sabres took six of the game’s first seven shots and finished the opening period with a 15-6 advantage.
Keeping Lehner busy: The Penguins took 11 of the first 12 shots during the second. They finished the period with a 16-6 edge.
Weber returns: Cody Franson, who suffered a neck injury after being hit from behind into the boards Friday, missed the game. Defenseman Mike Weber took Franson’s spot after five games as a healthy scratch. Weber skated with Pysyk.
Counting the house: Not every seat was used, but they were all sold as the Sabres announced a sellout of 19,070.
Next: The Sabres could look very different for their next home game, which won’t come until after the NHL trade deadline. Buffalo will spend this week in California, but they won’t have time to soak up sun. The Sabres play Wednesday in Anaheim, Friday in San Jose and Saturday in Los Angeles. The deadline is next Monday, and the Sabres will host Connor McDavid and Edmonton on March 1.