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Crosby, Malkin push Penguins past Panthers

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Each time Evgeni Malkin has scored this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won. That continued Tuesday.

Malkin scored 1:21 into overtime, and the Penguins survived a rally by the Florida Panthers to win 3-2 at Consol Energy Center.

Nearing the end of a cross-checking penalty to Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau, Malkin took a pass from Kris Letang and scored his third goal in as many games with a slap shot past Roberto Luongo's blocker. The goal was upheld after a review for a possible offside, the third time a goal was reviewed in the game.

Pittsburgh scored two power-play goals Tuesday after failing to score on its first 17 opportunities this season.

"Good for them (the power play)," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "They should all feel a little better now and more relaxed. It was huge. It got us the win tonight, two points."

Fleury, who has allowed three goals over his past three games, kept Pittsburgh afloat through the early portion of the season, when it failed to score more than two goals in each of its first five games. The Penguins helped Fleury with a third goal Tuesday, which was made necessary by the Panthers' late push.

Florida's fourth line scored two goals within three minutes to come back from 2-0 down with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period.

Quinton Howden sent a wrist shot past Fleury for his first goal of the season, his fifth goal in 38 NHL games, to make it 2-1 with 8:56 remaining. Derek MacKenzie tied the game 2:53 later, when Connor Brickley fed him from behind the net for a wrist shot over Fleury's shoulder.

"We know we were a bit sloppy in the third," Letang said. "We didn't get any momentum or big shifts to get us going. And we knew they were going to start cheating and trying to score goals, but we figured it out and we kept it calm under six minutes and got the win."

The Penguins (3-3-0) have won three straight after beginning the season with three losses, their worst start since 2005-06.

The Panthers (3-2-1) lost the first game of a three-game road trip, and have lost consecutive games for the first time after winning three of their first four.

"I'm sure the boys are disappointed, but in saying that, they came back from 2-0 with about 10 or 11 minutes left in the hockey game," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "We battled back and we got a big, big point in Pittsburgh tonight."

Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell was less enthusiastic.

"I think it's a lucky point for us right now," he said. "It's something that's good to get, but we definitely got lucky getting it."

Florida's Reilly Smith seemed to tie the game 1-1 at 1:16 of the third when he deflected a slap shot from Campbell, but after review, it was ruled Smith's stick was above the crossbar at contact.

Phil Kessel scored his second goal of the season 2:01 later to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. Kessel thought he scored a second goal in the third period, but it was disallowed after review because of goalie interference.

Sidney Crosby ended Pittsburgh's power-play drought, and his own, when he scored his first goal of the season with 9:00 remaining. With Nick Bjugstad in the penalty box for hooking, Malkin sent a cross-ice pass to Crosby at the bottom of the right faceoff circle, where he fired a snap shot through a screen by Chris Kunitz and over Luongo's right shoulder to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

The goal ended Crosby's streak of five consecutive games without a point, which matched his NHL career high. He finished the game with three points.

"I thought we generated some chances all night and we could've had more, but it was nice to see that first one go in and hopefully I can build off of this one," Crosby said. "You just try to stick with things and try to do the things you normally do, and trust that it will go in. You try to remind yourself that it's not always easy and it goes a while, but like I said, hopefully I can build off of this and put some more in."

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