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Malkin, Fleury lead Penguins past Oilers

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins back into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Malkin scored in his first game back from injury and Fleury earned his League-high seventh shutout of the season in the Penguins' 2-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Wednesday.

Malkin, who missed the past five games with a lower-body injury, scored 24 seconds into the second period for Pittsburgh (29-14-8), which moved back into first place in its division. The Penguins are one point ahead of the New York Islanders and two ahead of the New York Rangers.

"He generates a lot," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said of Malkin. "Not only his scoring chances, but with his ability to set guys up and create space for players. [Mark] Arcobello had a lot of scoring chances, and I think that line generated more than anybody."

Former Oilers forward David Perron also scored for the Penguins in his first trip to Edmonton since being traded Jan. 2 in exchange for forward Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. Fleury made 22 saves in the 35th shutout of his career.

"It feels like it's been a while since I got one," said Fleury, who hadn't had a shutout since a 1-0 overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 18. "It was a little quiet for me the first two periods, but the third was a bit more one-sided for them. It was nice to finish on a good note."

Goaltender Viktor Fasth made 26 saves for Edmonton (14-29-9), which played without forwards Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot. Each is day-to-day with a leg injury.

"We didn't have the execution tonight, it looked like we didn't have any jump, we weren't moving our feet," Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. "It was really a game where both teams weren't into it. Pittsburgh played a solid road game. We wanted to dictate play, but we certainly didn't do that. We didn't have any jump in the first period and it's disappointing because we played a strong game in San Jose [a 5-4 shootout win on Monday] and we wanted to follow up on it."

After the Penguins outshot the Oilers 10-5 in a scoreless first period, Malkin put Pittsburgh ahead to stay with some help from a miscue by Fasth behind the goal. Malkin was able to poke the puck into the net for his 20th goal of the season while Fasth was scrambling to get back into position.

"I got caught up in someone and kind of spun out of position," Fasth said. "And before I could get back to the post, they tapped it in there. There is not much you can do."

The Penguins dominated play in the second period, outshooting Edmonton 14-7. Arcobello, another former Edmonton forward, had an excellent opportunity to extend the lead midway through the period off a scramble in front. However, Fasth was able to slide across his crease and get a pad on a shot heading towards the net.

The only time the Oilers were able to sustain pressure in the Penguins' zone during the period came on a power play with just over five minutes remaining. Jeff Petry hit the crossbar on a shot from the point. Later in the shift, the Oilers defenseman fired a high, rising shot from the blue line that hit Fleury in the mask.

"We didn't have a great game tonight," Oilers forward Matt Hendricks said. "We weren't an aggressive team. Our forecheck wasn't good. Our dumps weren't good. They were exiting their zone way too freely. I give them credit, they're a good hockey team, but we helped them out tonight."

Perron doubled the Penguins' lead with 0.4 seconds left in the period when a rebound bounced off him and into the net as time was expiring. Defenseman Kris Letang took a shot from the point that was kicked away by Fasth but hit Perron's skate at the side of the net and slid over the goal line. The goal was reviewed and allowed to stand.

"It was a bad bounce it was kind of a knuckle puck it came in and I just tried to get it away. It hit his shin pad and it went in," Fasth said. "It was a tough bounce."

The Oilers dictated play in the third period, outshooting Pittsburgh 10-2, but were unable to beat Fleury. Matt Fraser came close with just over a minute to play on a shot from in tight that Fleury was able to kick away.

"I thought we played a sound game, the whole game," Perron said. "We didn't change the plan at all. We kept going with it and we got the result at the end. This month is going to be huge for us. We have to have a good start to it. We have guys coming back [from injuries] and some new guys and we want to show we can gel as a team and show the chemistry. It will be important down the stretch that's for sure."

The Oilers are off until they begin a six-game road trip at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The Penguins continue their three-game Western Canada road trip at the Calgary Flames on Friday.

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