Malkin on Fire as Pens Dethrone Kings 4-2

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Saturday and took sole ownership of 1st place in the Atlantic Division and 2nd place in the East, 2-points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.  Evgeni Malkin continued his torrid leadership of the injury-riddled Penguins, scoring 3 more points (2G, 1A) to draw within just 4-points of league leader Alexander Ovechkin.  Dany Sabourin got the call and stood tall in net, making 26 saves and picking up his first home win of the season.  With the win, the Penguins get an opportunity to put a little more point separation between themselves and the 2nd place team in the Atlantic if they are able beat the Flyers on Sunday.

In the 1st period, the Penguins picked up the lone goal, a power play tally at 11:09.  The goal came with 9-seconds left on a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity with Ryan Malone posted in front of the net and Kris Letang playing deep in the offensive zone.  Left all alone, Letang walked the puck out to the side of the net and fired it on goal.  Kings’ netminder Jason LaBarbara made the save, but the rebound bounced out into the slot where Evgeni Malkin collected the puck and wristed it into the back of the net.  The Penguins outshot the Kings 9-7 in the 1st, and were 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. 

In the 2nd, the Penguins exploded on the dominating play of Evgeni Malkin.  The Penguins scored early on a shot by Ryan Malone that deflected off from a Kings’ defenseman and into the net at 0:54 to make it 2-0.  Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora picked up the assists on the play.  Then, at 11:41, while on the power play again, Evgeni Malkin took a cross ice pass from Ryan Whitney and picked up his 30th goal of the season as he beat LaBarbara with a sonic blast from near the left circle.  Sergei Gonchar picked up the other assist for his 31st power play point of the season.  Then in the waning seconds of the period, Dany Sabourin made an incredible toe save that sprung Eric Christensen, Jeff Taffe and Jordan Staal up the ice.  After Christensen and Taffe were both stopped by LaBarbara, Jordan Staal picked up the 3rd rebound and drove it into the empty net to make it 4-0 with just 3-seconds left in the period.  The Penguins outshot the Kings 17-11 in the 2nd, and were 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.

Going into the 3rd, the Penguins had to continue to be on their game against the team that scored 4-goals in the 3rd period in a comeback win versus Detroit the other night.  The Kings managed to net one early as Derek Armstrong wristed one past Dany Sabourin at 1:54 to get on the board.  Mike Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov picked up the assists.  With the Kings pressing late in the period, they managed to get another one on a wrist shot by Brian Boyle at 18:28.  Alexander Frolov and Mike Cammalleri were again credited with the assists.  Despite pulling LaBarbara in the final 42 seconds of play, the Kings were unable to pull any closer.  Evgeni Malkin just missed getting the hat trick with an empty net goal as he fired the puck from the blueline and hit the outside of the net.  He broke his stick against the wall in frustration, but was nonetheless the best player on the ice picking up 3-points (2G, 1A) and the game’s 1st star.  For Malkin, it was his 17th point (7G, 10A) since Sidney Crosby was injured.  He has 11-points in just his last 4-games and is making a serious drive towards the league lead in points.  Ryan Malone (1G, 1A) picked up the 2nd star, and Jordan Staal (1G) collected the 3rd star. 

The Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers in a Sunday matinee game that could put 4-points of separation between the Penguins and the Flyers.  The Penguins will have their work cut out for them as they have failed to beat the Flyers this season after dominating them 8-0 last year. 

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