Evgeni Malkin unleashed a memorable performance on Wednesday night with two goals and an assist to go along with the shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 at Consol Energy Center.
Despite scoring the first goal, Pittsburgh trailed 4-1 early in the second period and 5-3 entering the third. The Penguins dominated the final regulation period, outshooting the Leafs 17-0 to force overtime.
The victory gave the Black and Gold a record of 16-9-1 and 33 points on Thanksgiving Eve; Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 in its last six. The Pens continue to lead the Metropolitan Division while the Maple Leafs are in fifth place in the Atlantic with a record of 14-9-2 and 30 points.
Wednesday marked the first time since March 22, 2012 against Nashville that Malkin put up two goals on the scoreboard in the same game, a span of 66 games. He leads the National Hockey League in the month of November in points (20) and assists (17). James Neal recorded his fifth goal in three games, Kris Letang had a goal and two assists and Sidney Crosby had two helpers to keep his lead in the league scoring race.
Malkin’s first goal came with the Penguins on the power play at 8:27 of the second period. Defenseman Letang hit Malkin with a pass at the bottom of the far circle, that No. 71 turned in to a slap shot over the right shoulder of Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier into the top corner of the net.
Left wing Neal picked up his seventh goal of the season on the power play at 3:42 in to the third period with Malkin earning his 24th helper of the season on the play. Toronto’s lead was cut to one, 5-4.
Malkin tied it up on his own rebound off a sprawling Bernier at 7:41 of the third period. Crosby and Malkin who beat Bernier in the shoot out to snap a two-game losing streak.
Right wing Chris Conner and Letang also put the biscuit in the net for Pittsburgh while rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff came to the rescue and stopped 11 of 13 shots after replacing starter Marc-Andre Fleury less than a minute into the second period. Fleury stopped just eight of the 11 shots he faced.
Left wing James van Riemsdyk had two goals and an assist on the score sheet, while right wing Phil Kessel and centers Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri each added a goal for the Leafs. Bernier turned away 43 of 48 between the pipes on the night for Toronto.
The Penguins will head to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning (16-8-1, 33 points) on Friday, and the opening faceoff is set for 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: Pittsburgh right wing Zach Sill and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo were the scratches…Malkin won six of his 11 faceoffs while Crosby won 19 of his 29 faceoffs and center Joe Vitale won four of six…The Pens had a crowd of 18,660 to mark their 300th consecutive sellout at Consol Energy Center, a streak that dates back to Feb. 14, 2007.