The Penguins downed Buffalo, 3-1, tonight at Consol Energy Center for a sweep of the Sabres in their four-game season series.
Buffalo took a 1-0 lead at 2:47 of the first period. Rob Niedermayer got the puck from Tyler Myers, moved in from the right point, got past Penguins defenseman Paul Martin and slammed the puck between the pads of Marc-Andre Fleury, knocking the goaltender's helmet off in the process.
The Penguins tied it at 1:25 of the second period on James Neal's first goal since being acquired in a Feb. 21 trade with Dallas.
The scoring chance came off of a faceoff play. Jordan Staal, in the left circle, won the draw back to Deryk Engelland, who moved down the boards. He fed Neal as Neal went to the net, and his shot caromed off the left leg of Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to make it 1-1.
Zbynek Michalek has been with the Penguins all season, but he also got his first goal with the club to make it 2-1 at 4:42 of the second period. Neal set up Michalek, and Miller never saw his slap shot from the right point as he was screened by Alex Kovalev of the Penguins and Andrej Sekera of Buffalo. The puck sailed past Miller's left shoulder.
It was the former Phoenix defenseman's first goal in 92 games.
Michalek and Neal were also involved in the Penguins' third goal.
Neal intercepted a Buffalo pass and, with a backward shove of the pucks, sent it deep in to the Sabres' zone. The puck came out to Michalek, and his long-range shot was deflected out of the air and past Miller at 13:46 to make it 3-1.
The Penguins are off until an afternoon home game Saturday against Montreal.
Shelly Anderson: email@example.com or 412-263-1721 First Published March 9, 2011 2:30 AM