By DAN SCIFO
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots for his fourth shutout and Chris Kunitz and Deryk Engelland scored second-period goals, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 Monday night.
Kunitz scored his 26th goal and Engelland netted his fourth. Tanner Glass scored his first goal in 26 games, a late empty-netter that sealed it for the Penguins, who won for the 15th time in 16 games at home.
Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL with 74 points, added two assists to extend his points streak in games against Buffalo to 16 games, matching his longest streak against any team.
Fleury, who leads the NHL with 29 wins, registered his 27th career shutout. He helped preserve the win, denying Buffalo’s Brian Flynn two minutes into the third period before following it up with a right-pad stop on Matt Moulson on a partial breakaway a couple minutes later.
Ryan Miller stopped 31 shots for last-place Buffalo, which has lost seven of nine.
The Penguins are in command of the Eastern Conference, leading Boston and Tampa Bay by seven points in addition to a 15-point cushion on the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division entering Monday.
But Pittsburgh has struggled recently with a lackluster home effort last Monday against Florida – 15th in the 16-team Eastern Conference – and a 3-0 loss Saturday at Dallas.
The Sabres, who scored at least three goals the previous six games, won for the first time five games on Saturday, scoring a 5-2 victory at Columbus and stopping the red-hot Blue Jackets’ franchise-record eight-game winning streak, but they couldn’t sustain the momentum.
The Penguins, after a scoreless opening period, scored at 14:16 of the second.
Brian Gibbons, who missed five games with a lower-body injury, hit the post on a one-timer from Crosby. The red goal-light behind the net momentarily turned on before Kunitz swept the rebound into a partially empty net.
Engelland scored later in the period, forcing a turnover in the Sabres’ zone before lifting a pass from Glass over a sprawled Miller.
Notes: Penguins’ F Evgeni Malkin played in his 500th NHL game, becoming the 15th player in team history to reach the milestone ... The Penguins are 27-2-1 when scoring first.
Chuck Kobasew, who played on Pittsburgh’s top line the past four games, was a healthy scratch on Monday in addition to Andrew Ebbett and Robert Bortuzzo. Buffalo scratched Drew Stafford, John Scott, and Alexander Sulzer . Buffalo plays the second half of a back-to-back Tuesday at home against Washington. Pittsburgh opens a two-game West coast swing Thursday at Los Angeles . The two teams meet for the third and final time this season next Wednesday at Buffalo.