BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sidney Crosby scored a highlight-reel a goal and added assist, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in a pre-Olympic tuneup against goalie Ryan Miller 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 and the Penguins (40-15-2) set a franchise record by reaching 40 wins in 57 games. That eclipsed the previous mark of 40 wins in 65 games in 1995-96.
Drew Stafford scored for the NHL’s worst team, and U.S. Olympic goalie Miller finished with 29 saves. Buffalo (15-33-8) dropped to 4-9-4 in its past 17 and winless in its last eight home games (0-5-3). That’s the Sabres’ worst home stretch since opening the season 0-8-1.
Crosby scored the go-ahead goal by putting the Penguins up 2-1 with a breathtaking play 2:08 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 didn’t break stride in cutting between Flynn and Mike Weber. He then drove toward the net and snapped a shot just inside the top right corner.
Malkin then provided an insurance goal on a breakaway with 2:12 left in the second period. Pouncing on Marcus Foligno’s turnover inside the Penguins’ blue line, Malkin streaked past flat-footed defender Jamie McBain. Driving in alone on Miller, he faked going right and went left to deposit the puck in the open side.
Miller is one of Team USA’s three goalies selected to play at Sochi, and the game against the Penguins was regarded his last chance to make a firsthand impression on U.S. coach, Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma.