PITTSBURGH (AP)The Pittsburgh Penguins watched the Vancouver Canucks score three times in the opening minutes on Tuesday night and essentially yawned.
No panic. No timeout to collect themselves. No scathing reminder from head coach Mike Sullivan to get going.
The Penguins didn’t need any of that. Not with Evgeni Malkin firing on all cylinders.
The Russian star scored two goals and added two assists as Pittsburgh roared back from an early deficit to edge the Canucks 5-4.
Malkin’s 28th career four-point game – the fourth-most among all active players – sparked the Penguins after Vancouver needed just 7:05 to grab a 3-0 advantage.
Malkin started the rally with Pittsburgh’s first power-play goal in nearly two weeks and gave the Penguins the lead 7:58 into the second period after executing a pretty give-and-go with Jason Zucker as Pittsburgh earned its second straight victory following a six-game slide.
”It’s like (a) huge win for us for sure,” Malkin said. ”They score three goals but on bench we believe we come back. It’s how we believe in (each other).”
Zucker, Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell also scored for Pittsburgh. Dustin Tokarski made 18 saves after starter Casey DeSmith was pulled in the first period. Tokarski’s victory was his first since last April while playing for Buffalo.
”I thought he was really solid. he made some big saves,” Sullivan said of Tokarski. ”I thought it had a huge impact on our ability to win the game.”
Conor Garland, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes scored during a 2:19 span of the first period for Vancouver, chasing DeSmith. Travis Dermott pulled the Canucks within a goal with 7:08 to play, but Vancouver couldn’t draw even, losing for the fifth time in six games.
Spencer Martin made 31 stops but dropped his fourth straight start when he had trouble withstanding Pittsburgh’s emphatic response.
”We got the lead and anytime you jump out to an early lead like that, you kind of relax a little bit,” Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”Once they caught fire, they were pretty dangerous the rest of the period.”
Pittsburgh erased the deficit by the end of an opening period in which it pumped 20 shots at Martin. Three of them slipped through, a one-timer from Malkin, a pretty redirect off a Brian Dumoulin feed by Crosby and a snapshot by Zucker after a faceoff win by Malkin.
The frenetic pace eased in the second period, but Malkin put the Penguins in front at the end of a slick sequence in which he stole an outlet pass at the Vancouver blue line, fed it to Zucker and then darted to the net. Zucker gave it back to Malkin as he crossed in front of Martin.
”Zucker (was) unbelievable,” Malkin said. ”I know he’s going to pass me across and I’m just ready to like score and it’s (a) huge goal for us.”
Penguins D Kris Letang remains in Montreal following the death of his father, Claude Fouquet, earlier this month. Letang’s teammates traveled to Montreal on Monday to attend Fouquet’s wake following a win in Arizona on Sunday night.
”He’s been in this organization for a long time, so I think it was the least we could do to (pay) it back for everything that he did for us and everything that he’s still doing for us,” Pittsburgh defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph said. ”It was a no-brainer for us, and we’re all happy to be there for him.”
NOTES: Only Crosby (37), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (32) and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (30) have more four-point games among active players than Malkin. … Crosby’s goal gave him 1,456 career points, tied with Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne for 17th on the NHL’s all-time list.
Canucks: Visit Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Penguins: Host Winnipeg on Friday.
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