The Buffalo Sabres, led by rookie goalie Bob Sauve and potent penalty-killers, halted a three-season winless streak against Pittsburgh by beating the Penguins, 3-1, tonight to deadlock their Stanley Cup playoff series.

The best-of-three preliminary-round series, which began with a Penguin victory in Buffalo Tuesday night, will be decided Saturday afternoon on the Sabres' ice.

Buffalo had been winless 15 straight games against Pittsburgh, dating back to March 1976.

Led by defensemen Jerry Korab and Jim Schoenfeld, the Sabres killed off all six Pittsburgh power plays tonight before a sellout crowd of 16,033.

After three Penguin power plays in the first period Rick Dudley gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with 38 seconds left in the period. He deflected Rick Martin's slap shot from the left-wing boards past goalie Denis Herron.

Buffalo extended the lead to 2-0 with 2:58 gone in the middle period on Jacque Richard's goal.

Herron turned back point-blank shots by Tony McKegney and Dave Schultz, but the Penguin goalie found himself sprawled on the ice with the puch only inches from the goal line. Richard skated from behind the net and nudged it in.