The star center returned to Pittsburgh's lineup Sunday after
missing nine games because of a leg injury and scored two goals to
lead the Penguins to a wild 6-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at
Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins (31-12-1) tied a franchise record with their 12th
consecutive victory, matching the mark set last year from Feb.
22-March 30. The Eastern Conference leaders have won 11 of their
past 13 games overall.
"(Malkin) looked great," said Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen, who
scored the game-winning goal with 7:22 remaining. "He was moving
around well. He was giving himself a lot of scoring opportunities.
It was good to have him back."
Malkin raised his season goal total to 11 and has 44 points in 33
"For him jumping back into action after coming back from the injury
he had, it was good to see him be rewarded," said Penguins coach Dan
Bylsma, who also tied a franchise record with his 232nd win,
matching Eddie Johnston.
"Early on in the season he played good hockey and didn't have the
stat sheet to back it up. We saw his confidence wane as far as not
shooting the puck. His stepping back in like this is definitely big
for our team."
Winger James Neal also had two goals and an assist for the Penguins,
who have not lost at home since Nov. 13, while Niskanen and forward
Jussi Jokinen scored one goal each.
Center Sidney Crosby, who missed a penalty shot in the first period,
had an assist to run his overall point streak to five games. He also
has a point in 21 of the Penguins' 22 home games this season.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury improved to 30-3-0 in his last
35 home games as he made 29 saves.
The Penguins also had star defensemen Kris Letang (elbow) return
after missing 10 games. He had assist.
Left winger Evander Kane scored twice for the Jets and had an assist
while defenseman Jacob Trouba, right winger Blake Wheeler and center
Mark Scheifele also had goals. Goaltender Al Montoya stopped 33
The Jets franchise is 0-11-2 in its last 13 games at Pittsburgh
since the Atlanta Thrashers posted a 4-2 win Dec. 27, 2006.
The Jets went 0-for-3 on the power play and are 0-for-13 in their
last six games.
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"Every time we come in here, there are a lot of goals being
scored," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "You're going to have to
defend against this team. They gave us five goals so it wasn't
like they were putting on a (defensive) clinic, either, but
you've got to find a way to win when you score five goals."
Niskanen scored the game-winner, breaking a 5-5 tie with a
knuckleball of a slapshot from just beyond the blue line for his
fifth goal of the season.
Malkin had tied the game at 8:29 of the third.
The Jets led 5-4 following a freewheeling second period in which
seven goals were scored, including two by Kane in the last 2:29.
The Penguins wiped out a two-goal deficit and took a 3-2 lead
with a three-goal flurry in the first 4:59. Malkin scored at
10th at 1:06 then Neal scored twice in the span of 34 seconds,
giving him 16 goals this season.
The Jets tied it at 3-3 on Wheeler's 18th goal at 6:02. The
Penguins went back in front at 11:38 on Jokinen's 12th goal but
the Jets retook the lead on Kane's two goals.
The Jets scored early and late in the first period to go in
front 2-0 as Trouba scored his fourth goal at 1:47 and Scheifele
scored his seventh with four seconds remaining.
"We were playing in their end and playing good offense, so the
mindset sometimes is playing offensively is the best defense,"
The Penguins had outscored their opponents 9-0 in the first
periods of their last five home games.
"We just didn't come out ready to play at the start but we
fought back, got some big goal and (Fleury) made some huge
saves," Neal said. "We won and we'll move forward. That can't
all be pretty."
NOTES: Penguins C Sidney Crosby missed wide left on a penalty
shot at 16:08 of the first period after being hooked by Jets D
Mark Stuart. ... Jets G Al Montoya started for the fifth time in
the last six games as struggling G Ondrej Pavelec, who is 3-10-2
in his last 15 games, was again on the bench. ... Penguins RW
Chuck Kobasew (lower body) was scratched for a second straight
game. ... Penguins D Rob Scuderi, a 10-year veteran, played in
his 600th NHL game. ... Both teams play Tuesday night with
Winnipeg hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Penguins
visiting the Vancouver Canucks.
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