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With Sidney Crosby entrenched in the longest goal drought of his career, the Pittsburgh Penguins aren't winning.
Following a lopsided loss in which coach Michel Therrien ripped his team's performance, Crosby and the Penguins will try to bounce back Monday night when they visit the Buffalo Sabres.
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The nine-game drought is the longest of his four-year career, and though he has 12 assists during this stretch, Pittsburgh (17-11-4) is struggling without his production. The Penguins are 3-5-1 in December and have lost five of their last seven.
The latest loss was particularly ugly. Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled midway through his second game back from a groin injury after surrendering five goals and Pittsburgh was routed 7-3 by Toronto on Saturday.
"It was a bad game by everyone involved," Therrien said. "We didn't show up."
When questioned about any potential leadership issues the Penguins may be having, Therrien's response was brief - "It's Sidney's team."
Crosby agreed with his coach's assessment of Pittsburgh's effort.
"There's nothing good to say. Nothing good came out of that," Crosby said. "Hopefully this makes us realize we can't get away with not working hard."
Crosby has two goals in his last six games against Buffalo, both coming in Pittsburgh's first trip to HSBC Arena this season Nov. 28. His second goal gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead after two periods, but Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad scored in the third to give the Sabres a 4-3 win.
Buffalo (16-13-4) also beat the Penguins 4-3 in Pittsburgh on Dec. 8, part of a three-game winning streak that was its longest since a season-opening four-game run. Since that victory, however, the Sabres have alternated wins and losses in their past six games.
After a 5-0 home win over Los Angeles on Friday, Buffalo traveled to Montreal on Saturday. The Sabres took a brief one-goal lead late in the third, but went on to fall 4-3 in overtime on a power-play goal from Alex Kovalev with 24.3 seconds left.
"You've got to give them credit, they kept coming," said Sabres left wing Clarke MacArthur, who had a goal and an assist. "I thought our goalie played really well for us and it's just too bad we got into penalty trouble."
While Crosby's nine-game goal drought may seem long, three games without scoring seems like a while for Vanek. The left wing, who entered play Sunday tied with Philadelphia's Jeff Carter for the NHL lead with 24 goals, hasn't scored in three contests since a two-goal effort in a 4-2 win at New Jersey on Dec. 13.
Vanek hasn't gone four consecutive games without a goal this season.
That drought could end Monday, as Vanek has scored once in all three games versus Pittsburgh this season.
Buffalo center Derek Roy, tied with Vanek for the team lead with 30 points, has five goals and eight assists during a nine-game point streak.
|Dec 22 '08||PIT 4 at BUF 3 - OT||S. Crosby|
|Dec 08 '08||BUF 4 at PIT 3||T. Vanek|
|Nov 28 '08||PIT 3 at BUF 4||P. Gaustad|
|Nov 15 '08||BUF 2 at PIT 5||J. Staal|