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Malkin, Penguins beat Canucks in shootout

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks met, in October 2011, the Penguins won on Evgeni Malkin's shootout goal.

There was a sense of deja vu Saturday as Malkin's shootout goal led the Penguins to the same 4-3 victory over the Canucks.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists, and rookie Olli Maatta netted his first goal for the Penguins. "I got the puck," Maatta said.

Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all three Canucks shots in the shootout, while Malkin tallied the only goal for the Penguins. He deked Vancouver's Roberto Luongo out of his skates for the game-winner.

"When Malkin came down I wasn't quite sure what he was going to do, and unfortunately I bit on the fake and he went backhand, so I wish I would have been a bit more patient maybe on that one," Luongo said.

The Canucks scored first at the 13:50 mark of the first period when Alexander Edler shot a rolling puck toward the Pittsburgh net from just inside the red line, 92 feet away. The shot seemed harmless, but the rebound bounced high into the air off the chest of Fleury, dropped behind him and rolled into the net before he could locate it. The goal marked the first time in five home games that the Penguins had allowed the opening tally.

"It's more fun to laugh about it now that we won," Fleury said. "I knew the guys would come back and get some big goals."

The Penguins evened the score less than two minutes later when Crosby notched his seventh goal of the season. The play unfolded when Pascal Dupuis' shot deflected off Luongo's left arm. The rebound came right to Crosby at the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

Crosby's first whack at the rebound deflected off Luongo's pads and came right back to Crosby, but he made no mistake on his second attempt, wristing it past Luongo's stick side. The goal extended Crosby's points streak to eight games and extended his lead in the scoring race.

Despite being outshot 15-5 in the first period, the Penguins could have easily taken a lead into the first intermission, but Chris Conner and Maatta hit the post on quality scoring chances.

The Penguins went to work against the NHL's toughest penalty-kill unit at the 7:08 mark of the second when the Canucks were whistled for too many men on the ice. Just 48 seconds into the power play, Chris Kunitz tallied his fourth goal of the season when he tapped in Malkin's pass from behind the net, beating Luongo to his glove side and giving the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

The assist moved Malkin into a tie with Syl Apps for fifth place on the franchise's all-time list (349) and extended his points streak to six games.

It appeared as if the Canucks had come right back and tied the game just minutes later, but the goal did not count because the net had been knocked off its settings.

The Canucks did eventually tie the game 2-2 when Brad Richardson took a cross-crease pass from Dale Weise, waited a split second until Fleury went down and then wired a wrist shot over the Pittsburgh netminder at the 12:44 mark of the second.

Vancouver grabbed the lead back, 3-2, at 12:50 of the third when Zack Kassian deflected a David Booth point shot from right in front.

However, that lead was short-lived. Just 22 seconds later, Maatta found the rebound from Kunitz's shot and pushed it past Luongo's right pad for his first NHL goal.

Crosby picked up an assist on the goal for his second consecutive three-point home game.

"It's always fun to see guys score their first goal," Crosby said. "That never gets old, seeing the joy and seeing how happy (Maatta) was."

With 1:24 remaining in regulation, Pittsburgh's Brandon Sutter was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway. With the game riding on his stick, he came in on Luongo but showed little creativity and fired a wrist shot on goal, which Luongo easily gloved to keep the score knotted.

Fleury made 36 saves to push his record to a perfect 7-0, while Luongo made 25 saves in defeat.

Despite the loss, Canucks coach John Tortorella was rather upbeat.

"We found a way to get a point," he said. "You always want to get two points, but we'll take one in a pretty tough building to play in."

NOTES: The official attendance was 18,657, the Penguins' 291st consecutive sellout. ... St. Louis Blues D Jay Bouwmeester is the only active NHL player to have appeared in more consecutive (642) games than Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin (638). ... The game marked the first time this season that the Penguins' opponent was a playoff team from last season. ... Vancouver RW Brad Richardson appeared in the 400th game of his career. ... Scratches for the Penguins were LW Harry Zolnierczyk, RW Beau Bennett (lower body), and C Dustin Jeffrey. Scratches for the Canucks were C Zac Dalpe, D Yannick Weber, and D Andrew Alberts. ... The Penguins play next on Monday night when they host the Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks continue their season-long seven-game trip on Sunday in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.
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