PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Penguins admit they weren’t really where they wanted to be during a 3-6 stretch to open the season.
But a road trip to California helped the Penguins gain some much-needed confidence and momentum, which they brought back home.
Erik Karlsson scored twice, Evgeni Malkin also scored and Tristan Jarry recorded a shutout in his return from injury, as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 on Saturday night.
“As of late, it feels like it’s starting to come together a little bit more,” Karlsson said. “Things are falling into place a little bit easier and we’re starting to get the results to go with that.”
Both of Karlsson’s goals came in the third period - on the power play early and a late empty netter - to extend a five-game point streak. Malkin scored his eighth goal of the season and added an assist. Drew O’Connor scored his first and Sidney Crosby extended an eight-game point streak for the Penguins, who have won four straight.
Jarry made 35 saves for Pittsburgh. He recorded his third shutout of the season and 16th of his career.
Jarry returned Saturday after missing Thursday’s game at Los Angeles with a facial injury. His mask came off during a scramble in front Tuesday at Anaheim and he was struck in the eye with a puck. He played through 38:15 of a combined shutout with Magnus Hellberg at Anaheim.
Jarry said Saturday that he received stitches after the Ducks game and his eye closed at one point.
“I couldn’t see anything for the last couple days,” Jarry said. “It was nice that the swelling finally went down and I was able to play.”
Malkin’s eight goals in 13 games are the most since he scored nine goals in 12 games during the 2006-07 season, his rookie year. Karlsson, last year’s Norris Trophy winner, who was acquired in a blockbuster summer trade with San Jose, has nine points during his five-game run. Crosby has been held without a point just once in 13 games this season.
“I think guys in general are playing more cohesive hockey together,” Karlsson said. “We’re starting to come together as a group. It’s still early in the journey and it feels like we have a lot more to give, which is a nice feeling to have.”
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 36 shots for Buffalo, which lost for the third time in five games. The Sabres were coming off a 3-2 home win against Minnesota 24 hours earlier.
“I thought they did a good job of clearing second opportunities,” Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said. “We obviously didn’t do enough to score tonight.”
Karlsson put the game away with a power-play goal 27 seconds into the third period, giving Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead. His shot from the point hit Buffalo’s Erik Johnson and went past Luukkonen.
“That was a big goal to kind of get us going in the third,” Karlsson said. “The power-play goal definitely gave us that extra confidence boost to finish it off.”
Sabres: Host Boston on Tuesday.
Penguins: Visit Columbus on Tuesday.
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