LOS ANGELES – The wins keep coming for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And so do the goals for rookie Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin fired a shot past Dan Cloutier on a rebound 2:45 into overtime Wednesday night to give the Penguins a thrilling 4-3 triumph over the Kings.
The Penguins (7-3) captured their fifth-consecutive win and vaulted into first place in the Atlantic Division standings in the process. The Penguins last won five games in a row during the 2001-02 season when they won six straight games, Jan. 17-26, 2002.
The conquest pushed Pittsburgh to 4-0 this season on the road. It’s the longest road winning streak for the Penguins since they won five-straight on the road, Nov. 15, 1997-Dec. 10, 1997.
Malkin, the 20-year-old rookie phenom, continued the magical start to his NHL career. He scored two goals against the Kings. Malkin, the only player in Penguins history to score a goal in each of his first six games, is the first rookie in the NHL’s “modern era” to perform the feat. Three other players – Montreal’s Joe Malone, Ottawa’s Cy Denneny and Montreal’s Newsy Lalonde – achieved it in 1917-18, the league’s first season.
The talented Penguins rookie now has 11 points (7+4) in only six games. His two-point effort Wednesday vaulted him into third place in the rookie scoring race behind Kings center Anze Kopitar’s 13 points (3+10) and Sharks defenseman Matthew Carle’s 12 points (2+10). However, both Kopitar (15 games) and Carle (13) have played in more than twice as many contests as Malkin.
Also, Malkin’s seven goals lead all NHL rookies. Right behind him is – who else – Penguins rookie center Jordan Staal. The 18-year-old netted his fifth tally of the season Wednesday night. The two sensational rookies rank one-two in overall NHL shooting percentage. Malkin is first at 35 percent, while Staal is second at 33.3 percent.
In fact, Penguins rookies Noah Welch, Malkin and Staal accounted for all four of the team’s goals against Los Angeles.
Sidney Crosby, the Penguins’ 19-year-old superstar, did not score Wednesday night (he did not even take a shot), but he assisted on three of Pittsburgh’s tallies. It was the second three-point performance in two games for Crosby, who tallied his first NHL hat-trick last Saturday in Philadelphia. The outburst moved him into second place in the NHL scoring race with 18 points (6+12) in 10 games behind Rangers star Jaromir Jagr, who has 20 points (4+16) in 12 games.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made his 10th-straight start and earned the win. He stopped 24 of 27 shots. He lowered his goals-against average to 2.61 and his save percentage to .922.
The Penguins return to action Saturday in San Jose at 10:30 p.m. EST.