PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins are still determined to finish as the NHL’s best team — despite a recent slump.
The Penguins rebounded from a loss on Saturday and beat the league’s worst team on Monday night as goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots for his fourth shutout, a 3-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres.
“When you play 82 every one isn’t going to be perfect, but we’re trying to be the best, not just into late June, but every game,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Chris Kunitz scored his 26th goal and Deryk Engelland netted his fourth, equaling a career high. Tanner Glass scored his first goal in 26 games, a late empty-netter that sealed it for Pittsburgh, which 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, matching his longest streak against any team.
Fleury, who leads the NHL with 29 wins, registered his 27th career shutout, tied for second in the league. He helped preserve the win, denying the Sabres’ 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.
“The first one was pretty close, and I was worried he might have cut across, so I tried to take his options away,” said Fleury, who is one victory away from reaching the 30-win mark for the fifth-straight full NHL season.
“(On) Moulson, I was trying to be patient because I know he has good hands,” he added.
Fleury was better on the play, giving his team a sorely-needed lift after a slow start to the period.
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.
Kings 1, Sharks 0
In San Jose, Anze Kopitar broke a long scoreless drought for Los Angeles and Jonathan Quick earned his third shutout of the season, helping the Kings snap a five-game losing streak.
Kopitar’s goal late in the second period ended a stretch of more than 154 minutes without a score for the Kings, who avoided their first six-game skid since December 2007. They did it with defense as Quick needed to make only 23 saves, stopping a flurry in the final seconds to seal the win.
Alex Stalock made 20 saves for San Jose, which had won six straight games.
Avalanche 4, Stars 3
In Dallas, Alex Tanguay scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, and Semyon Varlamov made it stand up for Colorado in a victory over the Stars.
Bruins 6, Islanders 3
In Uniondale, New York, the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith combined for three goals and six assists to lead Boston to a seesaw victory over the Islanders.
All three linemates scored, and Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Zdeno Chara added goals. Chad Johnson gave Tuukka Rask the night off and made 34 saves.
The Bruins, who have won four of five (4-0-1), have scored 12 goals in two games.
Hurricanes 3, Blue Jackets 2
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Jordan Staal scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:55 remaining to help the Hurricanes rally for a win over Columbus.
Eric Staal scored twice in the third period as Carolina erased a two-goal deficit for its fourth consecutive victory. Anton Khudobin made 22 saves.
Oilers 4, Canucks 2
In Vancouver, David Perron scored three goals as Edmonton defeated the Canucks.