PITTSBURGH – The Sabres threw their best punch at the defending Stanley Cup champions. The champs, of course, punched back.
Pittsburgh scored the knockout.
After Buffalo stormed out to three goals in the first period, the Penguins rallied Sunday in PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh scored four unanswered to drop the Sabres to 1-4-2 in their last seven games.
It was the second time this season Buffalo lost after leading, 3-0. It fell, 4-3, to Philadelphia in a shootout in October.
Jack Eichel scored to extend his point streak to 10 straight games, the longest active run in the NHL. The Penguins improved to 27-4-3 at home despite getting outshot, 49-45.
Tie game: The Penguins had to survive a video review to see if they tied it, 3-3, with 3:46 remaining. They did. Conor Sheary floated a shot to the net, and it hit the sticks of Zach Bogosian and Jake Guentzel to deflect home.
Guentzel raised his stick for the deflection, but officials ruled it wasn't a high-stick.
Comeback complete: The Penguins took their first lead with 2:56 to play. Justin Schultz faked a slap shot and hit a driving, wide-open Sheary for a tap-in.
The Penguins improved to 8-13-3 when trailing after two periods.
What a start: The Sabres had a first period to remember, shocking the Pens’ sellout crowd by opening a 3-0 lead and a 21-13 shot advantage. Ten of the Sabres’ shots came on three power plays.
Second thoughts: The second period played out as expected. Pittsburgh scored twice while outshooting the Sabres, 16-10, to cut Buffalo’s lead to 3-2.
Pittsburgh entered the day with 79 second-period goals, which ranked second in the NHL. The Sabres had allowed 69 second-period goals, the third most in the league.
Three in a row: Ryan O’Reilly opened the scoring, finding the net for the third straight game. He forced the Penguins into a turnover deep in their zone, then scored off quick passes from Evander Kane and Brian Gionta with 6:19 off the clock.
Wow: The Sabres opened a 2-0 lead with 5:07 left in the first. Matt Moulson gloved a clearing attempt by Pens goaltender Matt Murray, took a shot that Murray stopped and fed Gionta in front. The captain buried his 14th of the season, just his second on the power play.
Wow, wow: The fans sat stunned as Buffalo opened a 3-0 lead with 1:53 remaining in the first. Sam Reinhart found Marcus Foligno down low. The winger waited for Eichel to get open in the slot, and the center rifled home his 16th of the season.
The goal gave Eichel at least one point against each of the other 29 teams. Chicago’s Artemi Panarin is the only other player to do that in his first two seasons.
Getting one back: The bounces started going Pittsburgh’s way in the second, and the Pens cut their deficit to 3-1 with 7:45 gone. Cross-ice passes by Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel allowed defenseman Justin Schultz to shoot from the slot.
Buffalo defenseman Justin Falk blocked the shot, but the puck bounced off Schultz’s leg and caromed past goaltender Anders Nilsson.
Getting two back: Malkin, who has more points at home than anyone in the NHL, made it 3-2 with 6:18 left in the second. Schultz put a pass in Malkin’s wheelhouse, and the center left a vapor trail with his rocket past Nilsson.
By a whisker: The Penguins and the crowd thought Mark Streit tied the game, 1-1, with 7:10 left in the first. He streaked through the slot and redirected a pass through Nilsson. Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe dived and swiped the puck away at the goal line.
The officials reviewed the video, and replays showed the puck was about 99 percent over the line. It needed to be 100 percent to be ruled a goal.
More McCabe: The Penguins’ power play bolted toward the Sabres’ zone with a three-on-one early in the second, but McCabe dived again and broke up the chance. With the Penguins on the power play midway through the third, McCabe got in front of a Malkin one-timer.
No break: Each team had a breakaway during the second period. Neither scored. The Penguins’ Guentzel hit the post on his chance. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who replaced Murray at the start of the second, stayed with Kane and stopped him with his right pad.
Counting the house: The Penguins announced a crowd of 18,653, their 464th consecutive sellout.
Next: The Sabres return home to host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night in KeyBank Center. After two days off, they’ll visit Columbus on Friday and host the Blue Jackets on Saturday.