PITTSBURGH – Brian Gibbons scored his first NHL goal and added an assist during a three-goal third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night at Consol Energy Center.
A day after being called up from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, Gibbons gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead 3:52 into the third. Evgeni Malkin carried the puck around the Anaheim defense and slipped a pass to Gibbons, who sent a wrist shot past Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth (24 saves).
"I didn't really know what to expect," Gibbons said. "I just tried to come in, work hard and keep things simple. The guys helped me out and made me feel comfortable, which always helps obviously."
Olli Maatta added a second goal 1:02 later, but Ryan Getzlaf cut Pittsburgh's lead in half 26 seconds after that. Getzlaf drove towards Fleury and forced the Penguins goalie to slide to his right and out of the crease, leaving the net open for Getzlaf's wrist shot.
But Sidney Crosby reestablished the Penguins' two-goal lead by scoring his second goal in 10 games with 12:04 left.
Fleury, who has allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of his 18 starts, earned his 12th win of the season.
"We stayed with it. Even after the first goal, we stayed with it," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "They responded with a goal there and we kept with the plan. We played some of our best hockey there in the third period."
The Ducks, who are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the most points in the League with 32, have lost four straight games. Pittsburgh regained a one-point lead in the Metropolitan Division a day after the Washington Capitals, who the Penguins will face on Wednesday at Verizon Center, rose to the top.
"I'm not seeing any secondary scoring from anybody," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "What made us successful the first 20 games, or the first 19 games, was that we had four lines going and we could match with anybody and the third and fourth lines would usually score some goals if the first two lines were even. Now you look at it, and you got Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry and [Dustin] Penner knocking the odd goal in, and nobody else [is] contributing.
"When you don't have four lines contributing scoring, it's tough to win. I don't care how good the guys are, it's tough to win."
Pittsburgh rearranged its lines after losing four of its past five games entering Monday while scoring one goal in each of the four losses. But the changes didn't spark the offense until the third.
The Penguins didn't register a shot on goal until 18 minutes into the first period when Beau Bennett, who replaced Pascal Dupuis on the top line next to Crosby and Chris Kunitz, drove to Fasth's left and backhanded a shot off of his pad.
Pittsburgh, which had four shots blocked and three shots go wide in the first, put another two shots on Fasth over the next two minutes and trailed 12-3 in shots at the end of the period. The Penguins tied their lowest shot output in a period this season (three in the second period of its 3-0 season-opening win against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 3).
Anaheim registered the game's first 12 shots, but could not capitalize.
"We didn't have that many quality scoring chances in the first," Getzlaf said. "We dominated the shots, but it wasn't like we had a million scoring chances. We got pucks to net, we felt like we played pretty well. We just need to find a way to maintain that throughout the game."
Pittsburgh suffered the same fate in the second period. The Penguins rectified their play and outshot the Ducks 12-5, but failed to get a puck behind Fasth, leading to a scoreless game entering the third.
"They were sitting back a lot," Crosby said. "I think they were waiting for it. I thought we were pretty anxious to get up ice and play a quick game, but they were waiting for us. So, I think we played quick, but we didn't force things that weren't there and if they were going to sit back and play patient, even just take an extra split second to make a play or make sure guys have speed on the puck, I think we did a better job of that."
The game's best scoring chance through the first two periods came when Malkin backhanded a pass from behind the net to Kunitz in the crease with over two minutes remaining in the second. Kunitz backhanded a shot off of Fasth's back, but the puck bounced to the side of the net and was cleared.
Malkin collected two assists in the third; he has 10 assists in his past eight games.
But Malkin, who has not scored a goal since the Penguins' 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 17, passed on a few open looks. He held the puck on Pittsburgh's first power play alone in between the faceoff circles, but passed the puck to a covered Kunitz. The puck was cleared moments later.