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Malkin’s Power-Play Goals Lift Penguins Past Columbus, 3-2



Pittsburgh Penguins Game Win 3-2 Columbus Blue Jackets

Evgeni Malkin’s parents were on hand at PPG Paints Arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ game against Columbus Thursday night.

Considering how their son played with them in the crowd, the Penguins might want to consider getting the Malkins a permanent residence here.

Malkin, whose season could charitably be described as “up and down,” scored the Penguins’ first two goals, both on the power play, in what became a 3-2 victory against the Blue Jackets.

It was the Penguins’ 15th consecutive home win over Columbus and raised their record in the past dozen meetings with the Blue Jackets to 11-0-1.

The victory was the second in a row for the Penguins (32-30-2), the first time they have won consecutive games since a 3-0 streak Feb. 22-27.

The Blue Jackets, who were eliminated from contention for a playoff berth earlier this week, are 0-5-1 in their past six games.

The Penguins played much of the game without defenseman Ryan Graves, who left after logging just five minutes, 27 seconds of ice time. Mike Sullivan said Graves is being evaluated for an unspecified upper-body injury.

Kris Letang nearly put the Penguins in front at 4:13 of the opening period, as his shot eluded Blue Jackets goalie Daniil Tarasov but caromed off the right goalpost. When play moved to the other end of the ice a few seconds later, Penguins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made a good stop on Columbus winger Alexandre Texier.

Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson was penalized for delay of game after he shot a puck over the glass at 13:19, but the Penguins could not generate a goal while he was in the box.

Columbus appeared to score at 16:19, as Dmitri Voronkov deflected a Jake Christiansen shot past Nedeljkovic, but the goal was waved off immediately because Voronkov had touched the puck with a high stick.

The Blue Jackets got another controversial goal at 5:20 of the second period, but this time the ruling went in their favor after Mathieu Olivier knocked a rebound out of the air and past Nedeljkovic. A lengthy video review determined that Olivier’s stick was not above the crossbar when he made contact with the puck.

Olivier scored five seconds after a tripping minor against Penguins forward Sam Poulin expired.

The Penguins pulled even with a power-play goal by Evgeni Malkin at 9:50, as he hammered a slap shot past Tarasov from the top of the right circle 15 seconds after Columbus defenseman Damon Severson was sent off for slashing.

Letang and Bryan Rust got assists on the goal, Malkin’s 20th of the season.

The Penguins had gone 0-for-2 with the man-advantage in each of their previous four games.

The tie didn’t last long, however, because Blue Jackets center Cole Sillinger took a feed from Texier and buried a shot behind Nedeljkovic from low in the right circle at 13:11 to cap a 3-on-1 rush against rookie defenseman Jack St. Ivany.

The power play — and Malkin — struck again at 16:11, when Malkin slid a shot between Tarasov’s legs from inside the left circle while Columbus center Boone Jenner was serving a tripping minor.

Assists went to Sidney Crosby and Michael Bunting; Crosby’s was his 77th point in 72 games, moving him closer to averaging a point-per-game or better for the 19th consecutive season, which would tie Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record.

Drew O’Connor put the Penguins up, 3-2, 35 seconds into the third. He received a pass from Crosby, whose assist was his ninth point in the past three games, and beat Tarasov from inside the left dot for his 12th.

P.O Joseph got the second assist.

The Penguins had to kill a holding minor assessed to Crosby with 28.1 seconds left in regulation to preserve the victory.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to practice at noon Friday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.