Penguins 5, Lightning 3
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins were without Evgeni Malkin for the first time this season, so they just turned to their other superstar.
Sidney Crosby scored two early goals as the Penguins took a three-goal lead then held off the Tampa Lightning 5-3 on Sunday night at Consol Energy Center.
Malkin suffered a head injury Friday night late in a victory over the Florida Panthers. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has after the game that Malkin has a concussion and will miss the team's upcoming 3-game road trip.
Malkin won the Hart Trophy last season as the NHL's most valuable player and also led the league in scoring.
Crosby also had an assist as he moved to raise his point total to 28. Tampa Bay's Stephen Stamkos retained the NHL scoring lead as his goal and two assists moved his total to 29.
Pittsburgh (13-6-0) won for the fifth time in its last six games and is 10-3 since a 3-3 start. Tampa Bay (9-8-1) fell short in its bid to put together a three-game road winning streak for the first time since 2011.
Paul Martin, rookie Beau Bennett and Matt Cooke also scored the Penguins. Eric Brewer and Cory Conacher added goals for the Lightning.
Marc-Andre Fleury won his fifth straight start for the Penguins, making 25 saves.
Bylsma opted to move Crosby to Malkin's line with wingers James Neal and Chris Kunitz.
The strategy paid off just 1:16 into the game when Crosby scored the game's first goal by lifting a wrist shot from inside the right dot over the glove hand of goaltender Anders Lindback.
Crosby had a bit of good fortunate when scored again at 7:15 to make it 2-0. He was credited with the goal when Lindback kicked the puck into the net with the back of his right skate during a scramble in front of the net.
The Penguins made it a three-goal game with 34 seconds left in the first period as Martin scored his third goal on a wrist shot from the slot on a pretty pass from Matt Cooke.
The Lightning closed to 3-2 with a pair of goals early in the second period.
Brewer tipped in a Stamkos rebound at 1:37 for his fourth goal. Stamkos then scored on a five-on-three power play, blasting a slap shot from the left point at 3:14.
However, Pittsburgh restored its two-goal advantage at 12:20 when Bennett scored his first NHL goal. With the Penguins having a two-man advantage, Bennett reached the back of the net on a wrist shot that made it 4-2.
Tampa Bay sliced the lead to a goal again at 3:15 of the third period when Conacher scored his seventh goal.
The Lightning pulled their goal in the final moments but Cooke scored an empty-net goal for the Penguins with 52 seconds left, his third, to seal the victory.
NOTES: Crosby, the Penguins captain, said the hit by the Panthers' Eric Gudbranson that caused Malkin to crash into the boards and be injured on Friday night was clean and there would be no retaliation when the teams meet again on Tuesday night at Florida. ... Tampa Bay defenseman Keith Aulie returned to action after missing the previous two games with a stomach virus that caused him to lose 10 pounds. ... Pittsburgh center Joe Vitale threw Tampa Bay right wing Adam Hall to the ice during a fight with 29 seconds left in the first period. It drew five-minute major penalties for both combatants. ... Left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie and defensemen Brian Lee and Brendan Mikkelson were healthy scratches for the Lightning. ... In addition to Malkin, left wing Zach Boychuk and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo were scratched by Pittsburgh, though both were healthy.
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.