Pittsburgh, PA, United States (4E Sports) – Evgeni Malkin scored two goals in his return after missing nine games due to a lower-body injury to carry the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-5 win over the Winnipeg Jets Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center.
Malkin also issued an assist, James Neal tallied two goals and one assist and Matt Niskanen scored the go-ahead score as the Penguins (31-12-1) tied a franchise record with their 12th consecutive home win.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots for his League-leading 24th win while Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Brooks Orpik, Olli Maatta, Chris Kunitz assisted for the Penguins.
Evander Kane scored two goals and had an assist while Al Montoya had 33 saves for the Jets, who dropped to 19-21-5.
Jacob Trouba scored the game’s first goal 1:47 into the first period. Olli Jokinen sent a pass through Penguins forward Joe Vitale to Trouba, who unleashed a shot past Fleury for a 1-0 Winnipeg lead.
The Penguins trailed at home for the first time since a 5-4 deficit in their 6-5 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs Nov. 27.
The Jets extended their lead to 2-0 with 3.9 seconds remaining in the first after Kane backhanded a pass into the middle of the offensive zone to Mark Scheifele, who sent a wrist shot past Fleury.
Malkin started the second-period scoring by wristing a shot past Montoya’s blocker 1:06 into the period to cut the Penguins’ deficit to 2-1.
Then, Neal scored two goals 34 seconds apart to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead 4:59 into the second before Blake Wheeler snapped a shot past Fleury 1:03 later to tie the game at three goals apiece.
The Penguins regained the lead with 8:22 left in the second behind Jokinen’s wrister but Kane backhanded a shot past Fleury to tie the game anew with 3:29 left in the second.
Kane scored off a backhand shot again with 17.8 seconds left to put the Jets up, 5-4, entering the third period.
Pittsburgh recorded the first 10 shots of the third period and Malkin took advantage by scoring his second goal of the game. Malkin collected a rebound off of a shot from Neal to tie the game 5-5 with 11:31 remaining.
Niskanen then slapped the game-winning goal past Montoya 4:09 after Malkin’s equalizer.