TAMPA, Fla. -- The Penguins scored two third-period goals to defeat Tampa Bay, 2-1, at the St. Pete Times Forum this evening.
The victory raised their record to 41-23-5 and bumped them back to four points ahead of second-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.
The Penguins played the final period without center Evgeni Malkin, who left with an undisclosed injury. He appeared to hurt a foot or his lower leg when he was struck by a shot from teammate Kris Letang late in the second period.
Malkin wasn't the only prominent player to be injured this evening.
The Penguins got a serious scare just 40 seconds into the game, when Tampa Bay right winger Steve Downie rode Sidney Crosby down to the ice from behind, causing his right knee to bend at what appeared to be a highly unnatural angle.
Crosby left the ice and did not participate in the power play produced by a roughing call against Downie, but came off the bench to test his knee during a stoppage at 1:57 and was back in the game 3 ?? minutes into the period.
Neither team scored during the opening 20 minutes, but Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had to make a sensational stop on Paul Szczechura during a two-on-one break with Vincent Lecavalier about 20 seconds before the intermission to preserve the tie.
That stop inspired a "Flur-ee, Flur-ee" chant from a significant portion of the sellout crowd.
Lecavalier got a measure of revenge at 8:09 of the second, when he staked Tampa Bay to a 1-0 lead by sticking a shot from the inner edge of the right circle inside the far post for his 20th of the season.
The Penguins nearly pulled even during a power-play scramble in the waning seconds of the period, but Szczechura was able to sweep a loose puck away from the right post before Bill Guerin to knock it into the net.
Pascal Dupuis finally got the Penguins on the board at 2:20 of the third, when he swatted a loose puck past Tampa Bay goalie Antero Niittymaki from between the crease and the left circle.
Assists on the goal -- Dupuis' 17th of the season and fourth in seven games -- went to Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal.
The Penguins had three power plays, one of which carried over from the second period, during the first five minutes of the third, and used the last of them to score the game-winner.
Sergei Gonchar got the goal, his 10th, at 5:17, beating Niittymaki with a slap shot from above the right circle. Crosby, who extended his scoring streak to nine games, and Alexei Ponikarovsky got assists.
The Penguins planned to fly to Pittsburgh immediately after the game, but their next two games also will be on the road. They will play at New Jersey Wednesday and Boston Thursday.