The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist to lead Pittsburgh past the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 on Sunday night in the Penguins’ first game since NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin was injured.
Beau Bennett scored his first career goal on the power play to help Pittsburgh take over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division. Matt Cooke and defenseman Paul Martin each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who have won five of six to tie Montreal for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Malkin is out indefinitely after slamming back-first into the end boards during Friday night’s win over Florida. Malkin, whose head snapped back when he hit the boards, was re-evaluated over the weekend for a concussion.
James Neal, Malkin’s regular linemate, played alongside Crosby and Chris Kunitz against the Lightning. Neal is tied for second in the league in goals.
Steven Stamkos had a three-point night for Tampa Bay, with his 13th goal and two assists. Stamkos and John Tavares of the New York Islanders are tied for the NHL lead in goals.
Cory Conacher, the NHL’s leading scorer among rookies, and defenseman Eric Brewer also scored for the Lightning, who are tied with Carolina for first place in the Southeast Division.
Stamkos, with 29 points, is one ahead of Crosby for the NHL scoring lead.
Marc-Andre Fleury, tied for first in the league with 10 wins, won his fifth straight game.
Anders Lindback started in goal for the Lightning and allowed three first-period goals on 10 shots before he was replaced at the start of the second by Mathieu Garon.
Crosby faced the Lightning for the first time since absorbing a check into the glass from Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman two years ago. It was a hit that contributed to the concussion problems that plagued the Penguins’ captain, forcing him to miss the final 41 games of the regular season, the Stanley Cup playoffs, and most of last season as symptoms lingered.
Crosby put the Penguins ahead early with two goals less than 8 minutes into the game.
The first one came just 1:16 in. Crosby took a pass from Kunitz, skated alone down the left side and roofed a short-side wrist shot over Lindback’s shoulder from the faceoff dot.
Crosby’s second goal came 6 minutes later. Lindback had trouble trying to glove Martin’s shot from the point. Crosby got a stick on the puck, which bounced between Lindback’s legs and into the net after the Lightning goalie kicked it in.
Martin scored with 33 seconds left in the first period, tapping the rebound from Cooke’s initial shot into a partially empty net to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead.
The Lightning, after a dismal opening period, needed just 3:14 to score twice in the second.
Brewer got the first one 1:37 into the period on a tip-in from Stamkos, who followed it up by scoring the second — his fifth straight game with a goal — just 20 seconds into a two-man advantage.
Stamkos, with Pittsburgh’s Simon Despres and Craig Adams in the penalty box, wasted little time scoring on the power play, ripping a one-timer from the left side past Fleury to make it 3-2.
The Penguins regained a two-goal lead, scoring on their own two-man advantage. It was the 11th straight game in which they scored a power-play goal, and the first time in five games Tampa Bay allowed a goal with the man advantage.
Kris Letang rushed to keep the puck in the zone at the blue line, sending a spinning pass to Crosby, who set up Bennett’s first NHL goal, a one-timer past Garon.
Conacher scored 3:15 into the third period, one-touching Hedman’s pass past Fleury to make it 4-3. But the Lightning, whose 32 third-period goals rank No. 1 in the NHL, couldn’t forge a tie.
Bruins 4, Panthers 1
SUNRISE, Fla. — Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic scored first-period goals, and the Boston Bruins beat the Florida Panthers.
Chris Kelly had a power-play goal in the second, and Daniel Paille added an empty-net goal in the third. Tuukka Rask stopped 34 shots for the Bruins, who won their third straight game.
Tomas Kopecky scored a goal for Florida and Jacob Markstrom made 28 saves in his second consecutive start for the Panthers, who have lost seven of eight and five in a row at home.
Paille added a short-handed, empty-net goal with 1:37 left after the Panthers pulled Markstrom for a 6-on-4 skating advantage.
Red Wings 8, Canucks 3
DETROIT — Damien Brunner had two goals and two assists, and Joakim Andersson scored twice in Detroit’s rout of Vancouver.
Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall had a goal and two assists each, Daniel Cleary added a goal and an assist, and Jordin Tootoo also scored for Detroit, which netted three power-play goals in the second period to take the lead.
Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Ericsson added two assists, and Jimmy Howard made 18 saves.
Daniel Sedin had two goals, and Chris Higgins also had a goal for Vancouver. Henrik Sedin had two assists, and Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots but lost in regulation for the first time this season.
Jets 4, Devils 2
NEWARK, N.J. — Evander Kane scored a breakaway goal in the second period, and Andrew Ladd added some insurance in the third to lift Winnipeg over New Jersey.
Zach Bogosian scored in the first period, and Grant Clitsome had a power-play goal in the second for the Jets, who have won three of the first four of a five-game trip that concludes Tuesday in New York against the Rangers. Ondrej Pavelec made 26 saves.
Travis Zajac and Steve Bernier had goals for New Jersey, but the Devils (10-5-4) lost their fourth in five games and second at home this season. Johan Hedberg, a late-minute replacement for injured Martin Brodeur, stopped 23 shots.
Brodeur left the ice in pregame warmups because of “a little soreness,” the Devils said.
The Jets took a 1-0 lead for the sixth straight game.
Blackhawks 1, Blue Jackets 0
CHICAGO — Corey Crawford made 28 saves, and Andrew Shaw scored the only goal as the Chicago Blackhawks stretched their NHL-record, season-opening point streak to 18 games with a victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Crawford earned his seventh NHL shutout and second this season in his first start since Feb. 12. He outdueled Columbus’ Steve Mason, who stopped 26 shots.
Shaw provided all the offense in the second period for Blackhawks (15-0-3), who haven’t lost in regulation time this season and have earned 33 of 36 possible points. Chicago has won nine straight against Columbus, dating to Feb. 18, 2011.
The Blackhawks set the league record with at least one point in the first 17 games of a season when they beat San Jose 2-1 on Friday — topping the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, who started 12-0-4.
Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti’s first NHL goal snapped a tie midway through the third period, and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied to beat the New York Islanders and snap a three-game losing streak.
Sanguinetti, a former first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, fired a snap shot from the top of the right circle over the glove hand of goalie Kevin Poulin at 10:17. The 24-year-old defenseman, who has battled injuries throughout his career, had one assist in 20 NHL games before Sunday. He spent most of last season with AHL Charlotte.
John Tavares and Matt Moulson had given the Islanders a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, and New York seemed on its way to a third straight victory.