Malkin scores twice to reach 20 goals for the 15th time as Penguins edge Columbus 3-2

Thu, Mar 28, 2024
NHL News (AP)

Malkin scores twice to reach 20 goals for the 15th time as Penguins edge Columbus 3-2

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Evgeni Malkin scored twice to reach the 20-goal plateau for the 15th time and the Pittsburgh Penguins extended their mastery over the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 3-2 win on Thursday night.

The Russian became the 31st player in league history to score 20 goals in 15 seasons, doing it with a pair of power-play blasts - one from the right circle, one from the left circle - that erased one-goal deficits.

Drew O'Conner's 12th goal 35 seconds into the third period put Pittsburgh in front to stay. Sidney Crosby had two assists for the Penguins to boost his career total to 995, 11th on the NHL's career list. The longtime captain also has nine points in Pittsburgh's last three games.

Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 17 shots for the Penguins, who improved to 21-3-2 in their last 26 meetings with the Blue Jackets.

Mathieu Olivier and Cole Sillinger scored for Columbus, which has lost six in a row. Daniil Tarasov made 33 saves but the Blue Jackets finished a winless five-game road trip by falling to Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena for the 15th straight time.

The Penguins are fading down the stretch and could miss the playoffs for a second straight year. While they have maintained they are still pressing toward the postseason, they've also made a point to bring up youngsters like forward Sam Poulin - a first-round pick in 2019 - to give the roster a jolt down the stretch.

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Still, Pittsburgh largely goes as its stars go. Crosby remains a force in his 19th season, the 37-year-old Malkin has shown signs of slowing. His shot, however, remains a threat.

Olivier gave Columbus its first lead when he batted the puck over Nedeljkovic's left shoulder 5:20 into the second period, a call that stood after a lengthy review for a high stick.

Malkin evened it a little over four minutes later but Sillinger responded at 13:11 when he finished off a three-on-one with a one-timer from in close.

Columbus, however, couldn't find a way to make it hold up.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: Will try to end their skid against the Penguins at home on Saturday night.

Penguins: Will look for the first three-game winning streak in over a month on the back end of their home-and-home with the Blue Jackets.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

WILL GRAVES Graves is a national writer for The Associated Press, based in Pittsburgh. He covers the NFL, MLB, NHL, the Olympics and major college sports. twitter facebook mailto "
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