Without Crosby, Pens take aim at 16th straight win vs. Sabres

    9:41 AM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
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    (Sports Network) - Another win on Tuesday can move the Pittsburgh Penguins within one game of tying the longest winning streak in NHL history, a record that already belongs to the franchise.

    The Penguins, however, will try to record their 16th straight win without the services of captain Sidney Crosby as the club's superstar winger will miss Tuesday's home contest against the Buffalo Sabres.

    Crosby, who leads the NHL with 56 points this season, is out indefinitely with a fractured jaw suffered in Saturday's home win over the New York Islanders. He was hit in the face by a slap shot off the stick of teammate Brooks Orpik and needed surgery to repair the broken jaw and also underwent major dental work.

    As of yet, there is no timetable for Crosby's return to action.

    "The whole injury could have been a lot worse," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "When you get hit in the mouth like that on a deflected puck. Hopefully, everything is OK. He didn't get hit in the eye. The jaw can be repaired."

    In addition to losing Crosby for an undetermined amount of time, the Eastern Conference-leading Pens also will be without defenseman Paul Martin for the next 4-to-6 weeks. Martin, who is second to fellow defenseman Kris Letang on the team in ice time this season, had surgery Sunday to repair a broken bone in his wrist.

    Crosby left Saturday's 2-0 win over the Islanders early in the first period, but Pittsburgh was able to clamp down defensively for the win without their leading scorer.

    Tomas Vokoun stopped all 35 shots he faced in registering the third straight shutout by a Pittsburgh netminder. He combined with Marc-Andre Fleury for 37 saves in a 1-0 decision over Montreal on Tuesday, then turned aside 20 chances during Thursday's 4-0 verdict over Winnipeg.

    The Penguins have not permitted a goal in a franchise-record 208 minutes, 24 seconds, while also setting a new club standard by posting their 12th home win in a row.

    Pittsburgh's 15-game tear, meanwhile, matched the Islanders' run from Jan. 21- Feb. 20, 1982 as the second-longest in league history. The Penguins set the mark with 17 consecutive victories during the 1992-93 season.

    'It's nice to come up with the shutout, but to preserve the win streak, it's even better," said Vokoun. "We have a lot of fun with it and it's been great."

    Matt Cooke and James Neal each scored in the third period to offset the loss of both Crosby and Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh's second-leading scorer who was handed a game misconduct for hitting New York's Josh Bailey into the boards late in the second. Kunitz was not suspended for the hit and will be available tonight.

    Pittsburgh, which is five points ahead of Montreal for the East lead, is 15-4-0 as the host this season and is completing a five-game homestand on Tuesday.

    The Sabres, who are five points out of a playoff spot, enter Tuesday having lost four straight. Buffalo fell to 0-2-2 on the stretch after dropping Sunday's regulation game to visiting Boston. David Krejci scored the game- winning goal with 7:06 left to lead the Bruins to the 2-0 decision in Buffalo.

    Ryan Miller stopped 29 of the 31 shots faced for the Sabres. This is the fourth four-game losing streak of the season for Buffalo, which hasn't dropped five in a row since an 0-5-0 stretch from Jan. 14-21 of last season.

    Though a playoff spot is still in reach, the Sabres have been sellers ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline. They dealt defenseman Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday for a second- and fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft and then completed a deal with the Los Angeles Kings on Monday for blueliner Robyn Regehr.

    In exchange for the 13-year vet, the Kings sent a 2014 and 2015 second-round pick to Buffalo, pending a medical exam.

    Pittsburgh has won three of four and nine of the last 11 games against the Sabres. Buffalo has lost five of six in the Steel City.

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