Malkin Leads Way Again As Pens Down Lightning 4-2
PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — They say home is where the heart is, and it’s also apparently where the wins are for the Penguins who have now won six straight at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Home is also where the goals are for Evgeni Malkin.
He continues to dominate and he increased his home goal-scoring streak Sunday to eight consecutive games, which is just three behind Mario Lemieux’s 11 straight games back in 1996.
Just like they did against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday, the Pens fell behind by two early but managed to fight back for a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang also scored for the Penguins. And backup goalie Brent Johnson made 21 saves in the win.
For Tampa Bay, Steve Downie scored both goals and Mathieu Garon made 37 saves in a losing effort.
Steven Stamkos, the NHL’s leading goal scorer, was held pointless and mustered just one shot against Johnson. The Lightning’s star came in with 10 points during a six-game point streak.
The Penguins’ top defensive pairing of Letang and Brooks Orpik held the high-scoring Stamkos in check once again but briefly had trouble containing Downie.
The blue collar forward came in with only nine goals this season before beating Johnson twice on the same shift. Downie took advantage of a turnover then fired a slapshot that handcuffed Johnson to put Tampa Bay on the board. He lit the lamp again 11 seconds later, tapping in a pass from Teddy Purcell on the doorstep to make it 2-0 halfway through the first period.
The flurry seemed to wake up Malkin.
It was his power-play goal, a bomb from the right circle that sailed over Garon, with less than four minutes to go in the first that got the Pens going.
Kunitz tied it at 2 early in the second when the Lightning became so focused on Malkin they let Kunitz race down the middle of the ice practically uncontested.
He beat Garon with a backhand and the Penguins were off to the races.
Boucher tried to calm things down, calling a timeout in hopes the Lightning would catch their breath.
But Letang put Pittsburgh in front 29 seconds later on a perfect feed from Kunitz, who later assisted Malkin for an easy tap-in goal.
It was all the offense Johnson would need. The veteran had lost each of his previous four starts, raising concerns about Pittsburgh’s goaltending depth as the postseason slowly approaches.
While Johnson wasn’t spectacular, he was steady, which is about all the Penguins need these days considering the way the offense is humming.
The last time Tampa Bay visited the CONSOL Energy Center it walked out with a win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
That Penguin team, however, was struggling to score without Malkin and Crosby, both sidelined with injuries. Crosby is again on the injured reserve due to concussion-like symptoms, but Pittsburgh is getting by just fine without its captain.
Malkin kept the Lightning from creeping above .500 for the first time since Nov. 28. Tampa Bay came in 7-1-2 in its last 10 games to show signs of getting back in the playoff chase, but couldn’t keep up with the Penguins turned up the pressure.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)