PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The Penguins fell behind early, but fought back to erase a two-goal deficit in a wild and high-scoring 8-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Saturday afternoon at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Evgeni Malkin, playing in his 400th regular-season game, once again led the way for the Penguins. He tallied a goal and four assists, adding to his NHL-leading point total.
It was also a memorable night for Richard Park who scored his 100th career NHL goal, as well as Kris Letang who had two goals and an assist and Jordan Staal who had a goal and an assist in his first game back from injury.
“It was a wide-open game, and you know, obviously, we wanted to play a little bit of a tighter game,” Staal said. “We kind of gave them one too many chances to get back in the game and we obviously did a great job offensively … but we have to play better defensively if we want to keep winning like that.”
James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Dustin Jeffery also scored for the Pens.
Kyle Wellwood, Alexander Burmistrov, Tim Stapleton, Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little had goals for Winnipeg.
It was a less than memorable night both goaltenders though.
The Jets’ Ondrej Pavelec stopped just 31 of 39 shots, and the Pens’ Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t much sharper, stopping 20 of 25 shots.
The Jets raced out to a 2-1 lead barely eight minutes into the game on goals by Wellwood and Burmistrov.
But Burmistrov’s 10th goal of the season seemed to wake up the Penguins, who responded behind the brilliant play of Malkin.
Jeffery got the Pens first goal with assists from Staal and Letang.
Then, Malkin set up Neal’s 29th goal by flipping a faceoff back to Neal at the top of the circle to tie the game at 2.
Early in the second, Malkin fed Kunitz — with a secondary assist from Fleury — to put the Pens in front. He jumpstarted a 2-on-1 break midway through the second period that ended with Letang scoring his sixth of the season.
Malkin then netted his 30th of the season on a breakaway late in the second period by deking his way past a sprawled Pavelec.
The Jets drew within 5-4 early in the third period when Byfuglien beat Fleury with a wrist shot, but Park pushed the Pens back in front by two when he deflected Brooks Orpik’s shot from the point by Pavelec.
The forward, a 14-year veteran, raised his arms in triumph after reaching the 100-goal milestone.
Park’s goal was a pleasant surprise, but the Penguins hope Staal’s return would help take some pressure off the line of Malkin, Neal and Kunitz.
Staal, who hadn’t played since Jan. 6 due to a left knee injury, scored his first since Dec. 29 in the third period after Dupuis stripped a Winnipeg player and fed Staal in the slot.
The Penguins don’t have much time to enjoy the win. The Tampa Bay Lightning come to town next for a game at 7 p.m. Sunday.
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