March 9, 2012; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Florida Panthers defender Mike Weaver (43) moves the puck while under pressure from Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Penguins Top Panthers; Lose Malkin


The Pittsburgh Penguins rebounded after a tough loss to the rival Flyers on Wednesday to beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 Friday night in Pittsburgh.

The team now sits tied atop the Eastern Conference at 12-6-0 (24 points) and is tied for the second most wins (12) in the entire NHL.

Marc-Andre Fleury was back in net for the Pens and he turned aside 22 of 23 shots on the night.  Now on the year, Fleury improves to 9-3-0 with a 2.22 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.

Surrendering the first goal to Florida 8:25 into the second period, Chris Kunitz tied up the game 1-1 on the power play 2:16 minutes later and the score would stay that way at the end of the second.

Receiving a cross ice pass from Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen broke the tie 7:49 into the third period to put Pittsburgh up 2-1 and it would ultimately prove to be the game-winning goal.

Dustin Jeffrey, who has been absent of late, was able to give the Pens their third tally with 4:45 left in the game on a beautiful feed from Matt Cooke.

Not everything went right however.

Evgeni Malkin assisted on Kunitz’s game-tying power play goal in the second period, but he would later leave the game in the third period after he crashed awkwardly into the boards courtesy of an Erik Gudbranson check.

This would obviously be a huge blow to a team that just had gotten its full health back.  Malkin is the teams second highest point getter on the season and he provides one of the most intimidating shots on the power play in the entire NHL.

If Malkin should lose time due to the aftermath of this injury, hopefully it won’t be for long, as fans were able to breath a slight sigh of relief when they saw the reigning NHL MVP skate off on his own power.

Rookie Beau Bennett skated with Malkin along with James Neal Friday night.  The Pens prized prospect has yet to record a point, but it’s intriguing to see the young winger get his shot at finally being a top-six forward for Pittsburgh.

With the Malkin injury being the only exception, everything else went as planned for the Pens.  Pittsburgh had the game totally in control, even when Florida made some tough offensive rushes.

If Malkin is able to go or not, the next game should feature a few goals, as the Penguins got the Lightning next on Sunday in Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.

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