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Atlantic: Pens unwrap an early Xmas gift in Malkin

by Phil Coffey /
A Christmas gift has appeared under the tree a few weeks early for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and you can't scold the Pens for greedily ripping off the wrapping paper.

No, you can't keep Evgeni Malkin under wraps until Christmas. Beset with a host of injuries, the Penguins were as giddy as kids waiting for Santa Claus as they watched the big fella took the ice against the Boston Bruins Saturday night.

"I think after the last four games, this was a big moment for me and the team," Malkin said.

No understatement there. Offensive struggles are in the rear-view mirror and the Penguins own a 6-5 win over the Bruins. Perhaps not the prettiest of wins, but there will be plenty of time to work on technique now that Malkin is back.

Malkin played 26:37 in his first game back from a shoulder injury and contributed 3 assists as the Pens won in OT on Pascal Dupuis' goal.

"We were missing Geno," a relieved Dupuis told reporters. "He played great for us. Obviously, it was a big boost for us for him to come back. He played well. It looked like he didn't miss a shift."

No, it didn't and Malkin played important shifts, setting up Bill Guerin's goal that sent the game to OT with just 0.4 second left in regulation.

Malkin even played on a line with Sidney Crosby, something coach Dan Bylsma tries to avoid in order to spread out the offense. But it worked, with Malkin assisting on Crosby's goal against the Bruins.

"We know we have to create things," Crosby said. "It's hard for them to key on one of us when we're together. Geno did a great job."

Devilishly consistent -- Jacques Lemaire says one of the primary reasons why the New Jersey Devils have been successful this season is their consistency. Certainly their road work is impressive to say the least, but they can be playing on the moon and would play the same way.

"Doesn't matter who's going to be here, or how many injuries, we're still going to play the same way," Lemaire told the team Web site. "We haven't changed: the skill guys, they get their points. We don't change."

"I think the road caters to our style of game," Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We can keep it simple and make it hard on the other team, and when the they start pressing, that's when we're at our best."

Even without some of their regulars. In recent games, New Jersey has skated without injured defensemen Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya, as well as forwards Jay Pandolfo and Rob Niedermayer.

No problem.

"It's an organizational thing because it's a team philosophy from top to bottom," defenseman Mike Mottau said. "You can plug in different guys into the system and still have success. I think that's what we've shown. Along with the injuries comes opportunity, and I think that guys have stepped up and taken up a lot of the slack left by the guys that are out."

"Jacques does a good job of keeping the game simple for people," Zach Parise said of Lemaire. "He is a good teacher and makes it easy for guys on the ice, and I think that's why we have been able to have other guys come in and play well."

Overtime not Isles time -- You can understand why the New York Islanders dread overtime this season. Saturday night's shootout loss to the Florida Panthers was an especially bitter pill as the Islanders lost a 2-goal lead and then the game in the fourth round of the shootout.

The Islanders fell to 1-4 in shootouts and 3-7 in games that go past 60 minutes. Even more bad news, the loss was the third straight in which the Isles blew a multi-goal lead and the sixth time in 20 games this season.

The good news was the Isles earned at least a point in a third straight road game for the first time since Jan. 13-22, 2008.

"We showed resilience in getting that point," Kyle Okposo said.

But ...

"Sometimes when you get a lead like that, you get a little lackadaisical," Islanders rookie John Tavares said of the team's inability to hold the lead. "You have to bear down and be sharper."

A game to remember  -- P.A. Parenteau is going to remember Nov. 14 for a very long time.

The New York Rangers rookie had his family in the stands at Scotiabank Place to watch him in action against the Senators and his shootout goal in the seventh round gave the Rangers a 2-1 win over the Sens.

Parenteau had been recalled from the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack Friday for his third NHL game this season, and it became the most memorable when he lifted a shot over Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott to give the Rangers the win.

"Came left, made a quick little move on him and went right, and it was open on the top shelf, right side," Parenteau said of the move he made to beat Elliott. "It's a pretty good feeling right now. It's a big win for us, too.

"It's pretty big," Parenteau told reporters. "My family was here. I had a lot of friends, too, so it's a great feeling to score a shootout winner when you have a lot of people in town for you."

Nice for Parenteau, huge for the Rangers, who had been struggling at 3-7-1.

"We needed this one really bad," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "After practice (Friday, we said), 'We gotta turn this around in Ottawa.' We played a really good road game, I think. We took a lot of penalties but the penalty kill came up big again and saved us."

A seat of their own  -- Flyers fans have the chance to grab a very unique keepsake, seats from the Spectrum.

Comcast-Spectacor is taking orders for fans wishing to own souvenir seats from the Spectrum, exclusively through or by phone by calling 215-952-5691.
A pair of seats can be reserved for $395 while a single seat can be reserved for $295. The Spectrum folding chairs will also be available for $195. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Comcast-Spectacor Foundation.
"The Spectrum is a very special place for so many millions of people," said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. "I know how passionate people are about the Spectrum and we're excited to offer our fans a chance to now own Spectrum seats."
"The Spectrum will live forever," added Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. "Our fans can keep the Spectrum going in their home, their office, or any other place they would like by owning the actual seats from the Spectrum."
Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers season ticket holders, Wachovia Center premium seat customers, and members of the Flyers and Sixers email clubs, Wachovia Complex Cyber Club and the  email club will have priority in purchasing souvenir seats from the Spectrum. These priority customers will be notified in advance by email.
Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no guarantees on specific seat location requests. Seats will be available for pick-up at the Spectrum beginning on Monday, Nov. 30. Customers can select their pick-up date and time when ordering.

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