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game recap

Malkin scores twice in Penguins win against Devils

Pittsburgh extends wild-card lead on New Jersey to seven points

by Mike G. Morreale @MikeMorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Malkin's second goal

PIT@NJD: Malkin notches his second goal of the game

3/6/16: Evgeni Malkin collects the puck from a fallen defenseman for a breakaway, sending his shot into the net for his second goal of the game

  • 00:45 •

NEWARK, N.J. -- Evgeni Malkin continued his torrid scoring pace since returning from injury with two goals and rookie goaltender Matthew Murray made 17 saves to help the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Sunday.

Matt Cullen, Nick Bonino, Bryan Rust and Scott Wilson scored for the Penguins, who won for the fourth time in the past six games.

Pittsburgh (34-23-8), which leads the Devils by seven points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, play the second of a four-game road trip at the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Malkin has been on a tear since returning to the lineup on Feb. 27 after missing 10 games because of a lower-body injury, scoring four goals and seven points in six games. He has 56 points in 55 games and is on pace to finish above the point-per-game mark for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

"It's always good to score because it gives you and the team that confidence to keep going, and this was a good rebound after losing on Saturday (against the Calgary Flames)," Malkin said.

Video: PIT@NJD: Malkin, Cullen strike 38 seconds apart

Malkin did much of his damage after right wing Kyle Palmieri checked him into the Devils bench 8:36 into the first period. Malkin, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal less than a minute later, smiled when asked if the hit got him going.

"Hey, this is a tough game and we knew they would be a tough team," Malkin said. "I was trying to make a pass and, really, I think the bench might be a little lower here. But it was a good battle, I liked it."

Palmieri scored and Keith Kinkaid made 24 saves for New Jersey (31-29-7), which has lost five of the past six games.

"We're disappointed in the end result," Devils coach John Hynes said. "In the first period we were right there and in the second we had opportunities. We're just not happy with the end result. There are things we can take from the game that were good and bad. Now we want to see if we can get better."

New Jersey was playing without goaltender Cory Schneider (lower body) and center Jacob Josefson (upper body). Hynes said after the game that Schneider has a Grade 1 medial collateral ligament sprain and is scheduled to be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Video: PIT@NJD: Bonino pads the lead with goal in 2nd period

Malkin and Cullen scored in a span of 38 seconds midway through the first period to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. After Devils forward Jordin Tootoo was whistled for instigator in a fight with Tom Sestito at 7:49, Malkin scored a power-play goal from the right circle off a pass from Sidney Crosby at 9:14.

Crosby had two assists and extended point streak to five games (three goals, six assists).

"Obviously this was the response we were looking for (after losing to Calgary)," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We believe in our leadership group. We knew they would play the right way and I thought we played hard and it was a solid team effort. We got contributions throughout our lineup."

Cullen gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead off a turnover in the neutral zone when he skated between the circles and took a shot that beat Kinkaid over the left shoulder at 9:52.

Bonino scored for the first time since Nov. 7 in the second period off a rebound in the slot for a 3-0 lead at 1:37. Palmieri scored his 25th of the season when he took a pass from Reid Boucher in full stride down the middle of the ice before scoring off a backhand at 7:52.

Video: PIT@NJD: Murray deflects Henrique's shot with pad

"The (Tom Kuhnhackl-Bonino-Rust) line was very effective," Sullivan said. "I think they're a solid line. They can play at both ends of the rink and we can play them against top lines because they're responsible in their end zone. Kuhnhackl and Rust bring an element of speed to that line, and Bonino is smart at both ends. They're impact was huge."

Khunhackl, Bonino and Rust combined for two goals and four assists.

A key moment in the game occurred midway through the second when the Devils had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:22 when Malkin and defenseman Olli Maatta were each penalized for high sticking at 11:25 and 12:04, respectively.

"That was a big point because if they score on that it might be a different game and they gain momentum," Murray said. "I think the fact we were able to kill it was huge."

Penguins penalty-killers Bonino, Ian Cole and Kris Letang kept the Devils to the outside, allowing two sharp-angle shots by Adam Henrique from the right circle.

Video: PIT@NJD: Palmieri nets 25th goal with backhander

"It was tough, because they have a pretty straight forward power play and set up well, but we did a good job getting in lanes," Bonino said. "I don't think they had too many good shots. Our defense was in good spots and Murray was in position to make the saves.

"Then [Malkin] scores the big one at the other end when we kill it off."

Less than a minute after killing the penalties, Malkin skated down his right wing and cut to the middle of ice before scoring off a wrist shot from the high slot at 15:23. Devils defenseman Jon Merrill fell down while skating backwards at the blue line, allowing Malkin more room to operate against defenseman David Schlemko. It was Malkin's first multiple-goal game since Jan. 23 when he scored a hat trick in a 5-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

Rust scored off a redirection in the slot off a shot from the left point by defenseman Justin Schultz 6:49 into the third for a 5-1 lead. The assist by Schultz was his first with the Penguins since being acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 27. Wilson finished a tic-tac-toe passing play with Crosby and Rust at 16:05 for a 6-1 lead.

The Penguins were without left wing Carl Hagelin because of an upper-body injury sustained Saturday.

Video: Malkin's two goals leads Penguins in rout over Devils

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