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Penguins 3, Panthers 1

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins skated away with a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers in Pittsburgh on Friday.

However, the talk after the game was centered around reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin, who went crashing into the end boards at a high rate of speed after being knocked off the puck by Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson early in the third period.

The impact caused Malkin's neck to violently snap back. He skated off under his own power and did not return after lying on the ice for more than a minute. There was no immediate announcement of his condition.

The first period was relatively uneventful. The one statistic that stood out after the first was the rather lopsided shots on goal, which were 12-3 in favor of the Penguins.

The Panthers finally broke the stalemate at 8:25 of the second when Mike Weaver fired a point shot over the stick-side shoulder of Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. The goal was his first of the season with Brian Campbell picking up the assist.

The Penguins quickly answered with a power-play tally from Kris Kunitz at 10:41 of the second. Kunitz was able to jam a loose puck past Florida netminder Jacob Markstrom after digging for the rebound in his pads. It was Kunitz's seventh goal of the season and marked the 10th consecutive game that the Penguins recorded a power-play goal.

Evgeni Malkin and James Neal picked up assists on the goal, making them first and second, respectively, in the NHL in power play points.

The score remained tied 1-1 going into the third.

Although Malkin was missing from the power play, the Penguins were still able to notch a goal on what was essentially a power-play when Matt Niskanen blasted a shot from the point past Markstrom for his third of the season at 7:49. The goal came just as a Tomas Kopecky penalty for slashing had expired.

The Penguins added to their lead with a goal from Dustin Jeffrey at 15:28 when he tapped in a slick cross-crease pass from Matt Cooke. The goal was Jeffrey's first of the season.

Notes: Going into the game, the Penguins had lost just 11 man games to injury, compared to the Panthers' 46. ... The three shots the Penguins allowed in the first period marked the fewest in a period all season. ... Florida RW Alex Kovalev needs one assist to reach 600 for his career. ... The game marked the 262nd consecutive sellout for the Penguins. ... Center Joe Vitale, left wing Zach Boychuk and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo were scratched for Pittsburgh, while goalie Scott Clemmensen and right wings Kris Versteeg and George Parros were scratched for Florida. ... The next game for both teams is Sunday. The Penguins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida will host the Boston Bruins.
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