Malkin won't be returning the stick anytime soon. In three games using a stick with a straighter blade, he has scored three backhanded goals.
After assisting on David Perron's 5-on-3 power-play goal, which deflected off Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson's skate and through goalie Curtis McElhinney's five-hole 2:34 into the second, Malkin scored one of his own.
With Fedor Tyutin still in the penalty box for high sticking against Sidney Crosby, the puck cycled from Pouliot to Crosby before finding Kris Letang to the left of the net. Letang backhanded a pass in the slot to Malkin, who dropped to one knee and one-timed a snap shot through McElhinney's pads 4:20 into the second.
"Columbus is a very good team," Malkin said. "They have a couple of good players injured, and we played at home. We know we're a good team too and we had a couple days of rest and we showed great hockey tonight. … The last 20 minutes, I didn't think we played great. We need to stay focused the whole game."
With two goals and one assist against Columbus, Malkin has 64 points, tying Crosby for the Pittsburgh lead and pulling within one point of New York Islanders center John Tavares and Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek for the NHL lead.
Pouliot scored the Penguins' third power-play goal of the second period when Crosby's pass hit Hornqvist and McElhinney's pad before bouncing to Pouliot to the right of the net. He snuck a wrist shot inside the right post with 2:53 remaining to put Pittsburgh up 4-1 entering the second intermission.
"We've been good lately. We have to keep that going into this road trip," Pouliot said. "I'm feeling better [on the power play]. I'm making the right decisions and things are clicking."
Steve Downie scored 18 seconds into the third period for a 5-1 lead. Daniel Winnik, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, earned the primary assist for his first point with Pittsburgh.
Ryan Johansen ended the Penguins' streak of five unanswered goals on a shorthanded breakaway to cut the deficit to three goals at 5:37 of the third. Nick Foligno scored with 53.4 seconds remaining to bring the score to 5-3.
Pittsburgh (36-17-9) has won four straight since a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets on Feb. 19 and is three points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders with two games in hand. The Blue Jackets (26-32-4) are 0-5-1 since Feb. 19.
"We have to find something we can hang our hat on, as far as pride and how we play," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We've lost some games. You go back to last night's game and how we played, and there were some good things here, it's just that consistency and being able to stick with it and doing it for 60 minutes.
"This league is too hard to win hockey games if you aren't consistent in the way you want to play."
James Wisniewski scored the game's first goal a few minutes after it seemed he had sustained an injury. After blocking a slap shot from Crosby, Wisniewski fell to the ice before heading to the dressing room past the midway point of the first period.
Wisniewski returned quickly and took part in the Blue Jackets' 4-on-3 power play with Penguins defenseman Paul Martin in the penalty box for hooking. Wisniewski sent a one-time slap shot past Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker off of a pass from Johansen to give Columbus a 1-0 lead with 2:27 remaining in the first.
"We came out with a real good start, something we hadn't done in a while," Foligno said. "It's unfortunate because I thought we had a really good start to a road game on a back-to-back against a tough team and just couldn't find a way to continue it. It's too bad because, like I said, we gave ourselves a good chance, but then penalties came into it and it's hard.
"When you have guys killing that many penalties on a back-to-back, it tires them out. Then you have guys sitting and it's just never a good recipe for a win."
Malkin didn't allow the Blue Jackets to carry that lead into the intermission when he nearly singlehandedly tied the game with 1:05 left in the period. Malkin carried the puck into the Columbus zone and left it for Chris Kunitz before heading behind the net and up the opposite boards. He regained the puck near the blue line and possessed it with one hand before backhanding a shot through traffic by Kunitz, Wisniewski and Tyutin.
The shot dribbled through McElhinney, who started for the second time in as many days, for Malkin's first of two goals. He leads the Penguins with 26 goals, six more than Crosby.
"I thought there was a time two weeks ago when [Malkin] had a little bit of a lapse in his game," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "Other than that, I have not seen it all year. I've seen the same thing you're talking about. I've seen a lot of intensity in his game, and the more emotion and intensity he has in the game, the better his game is. You saw it right away. You can see it early in the game with him. He gets out there, he's skating.
"He's hard on the loose pucks, he's lifting sticks, and when he's engaged like that in the game as he has been, he can be a dominant player like he was tonight."