The Pittsburgh Penguins look lost for a while without the injured Jaromir Jagr. That didn't mean they lost the game.
Jagr's season-long scoring streak ended with a groin injury, but the Penguins got three quick goals in the first period and made them hold up Tuesday night to beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.
Jagr, the NHL scoring leader with 33 points in 16 games, left with a strained groin just after the Penguins scored three goals in a span of 3:04 midway to chase rookie goaltender Martin Biron.
"He tried to catch up to Kip Miller on a 2-on-1 break and he hurt his groin," Penguins coach Kevin Constantine said. "It was a nice test for our team to lose its captain. He's a big part of our offense, so at least we spotted ourselves some goals."
Jagr's 2.2 points per game scoring pace is the highest over a sustained stretch since Wayne Gretzky averaged 2.3 over a 25-game span in 1990-91. He had at least one point in each of the Penguins' first 15 games and was on a Gretzky-like pace to score 180 points.
"Jaromir's carried us all year," Constantine said. "Tonight, it was the other 19 guys."
German Titov, Alexei Kovalev and Matthew Barnaby scored for the Penguins, who won their third in a row at home despite being shut out for the final 2 1/2 periods by Sabres ackup goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
"This is not a league where you can win very often giving the other team a two- or three-goal lead on the road," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
The Penguins have won three of four since a 2-7-3 start and are unbeaten in nine home games (7-0-2) against Buffalo since March 1996.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin stopped 19 of 21 shots as Buffalo lost its third in a row on a four-game road trip after winning four straight.
Titov scored his fourth of the season at 10:12 of the first, pouncing on a loose puck in the lower slot and throwing it under Biron's glove. Kovalev scored 1:18 later on a nice passing sequence that saw Kip Miller drop-pass the puck to Robert Lang. He snapped a pass to Kovalev, who one-timed it by Biron.
Barnaby, who had only two goals in 41 games since being traded by Buffalo to Pittsburgh in March, got his first of the season on a breakaway at 13:16. He held back at the blue line as Pittsburgh gained control, took Kovalev's breakout pass and slid the puck between Biron's pads.
"I've practiced against him for five years, and I knew he was looking for me to go to my backhand, so I was looking to go to the five-hole the whole way," Barnaby said. "It's always great to get one against your old team."
Ruff then pulled Biron, who had won six of his first eight starts in place of the injured Dominik Hasek. The Sabres are 1-7-2 when the rookie does not start.
"Barnaby skated well to get his break and they made a couple of good passes on the other ones," Biron said. "But part of it was me, I've got to do better than that, I've got to make the saves. You can't afford to get behind 3-0 on the road."
Pittsburgh's offense shut down after Jagr left, and Miroslav Satan scored shorthanded on a giveaway by Martin Straka late in the first period to slice into the Penguins' lead. Satan has 28 goals in his last 49 games.
The Sabres, off to a disappointing 7-10-2 start after losing to Dallas in the Stanley Cup finals last season, made it 3-2 on Brian Holzinger's second of the season at 16:27 of the second. But they had few good scoring chances after that against Aubin, who evened his record at 3-3.
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