Sidney Crosby scored a highlight-reel goal and added an assist, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Brian Gibbons and minor-league call-up Harry Zolnierczyk also scored for Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots as the Penguins (40-15-2) set a franchise record by reaching 40 wins in 57 games. That eclipsed the mark of 40 wins in 65 games in 1995-1996.
Drew Stafford scored for the NHL’s worst team, while Ryan Miller finished with 29 saves. Buffalo (15-33-8) dropped to 4-9-4 in their past 17 games and are winless in their past eight home games (0-5-3). That is the Sabres’ worst home stretch since opening the season 0-8-1.
Crosby scored to put the Penguins up 2-1 with a breathtaking play 2 minutes, 8 seconds into the second period. It came immediately after Fleury stopped Buffalo’s Brian Flynn in close.
Crosby circled his own net and built up a head of steam by driving up the left wing. Accepting Matt Niskanen’s pass while crossing center, Crosby did not break stride in cutting between Flynn and Mike Weber. The Pittsburgh star drove toward the net and snapped a shot just inside the top right corner.
BLACKHAWKS 2, DUCKS 0
In Anaheim, California, Corey Crawford made 29 saves in his first shutout of the season, as Chicago pulled within one point of Anaheim for the overall NHL lead with a victory over the Ducks.
Marian Hossa scored in the second period and captain Jonathan Toews added a late goal for the defending Stanley Cup champions Blackhawks, who improved to 3-0-2 on their six-game trip before the Olympic break.
Jonas Hiller stopped 23 shots for the Ducks, who have lost four of five. Anaheim also have lost four of their past seven home games after starting the season 20-0-2 at the Honda Center.
The two teams had 15 combined Olympians on the Honda Center ice, including five key members of the Canadian team headed to Sochi.
SHARKS 2, STARS 1, OT
In San Jose, California, Tommy Wingels scored with 3:08 remaining in overtime to lead San Jose over Dallas for their second win in six games.
Marty Havlat scored in regulation and set up the game-winner in overtime to give the struggling Sharks a much-needed boost with just one game left before the Olympic break. Alex Stalock made 19 saves.
Valeri Nichushkin tied the game early in the third for the Stars, who came up short in their attempt to sweep a three-game road trip and move into playoff position in the Western Conference. Dallas trail Vancouver by two points in the race for the final playoff spot. Kari Lehtonen made 19 saves.
In other news, prolific Canadian goal scorer Steven Stamkos will miss the Sochi Olympics because his broken leg has not healed, depriving the defending ice hockey champions of one of their best players.
A scan revealed Stamkos’ fractured right tibia had not healed sufficiently for him to play, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the player’s NHL team, announced on Wednesday.
“Today is obviously very disappointing for me,” the Lightning center said in a statement released by the team. “I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can’t force healing.”
Team Canada is expected to announce Stamkos’ replacement in the next few days.