Penguins' Malkin nets overtime winner against Chicago

PENGUINS 5, BLACKHAWKS 4 (OT)


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CHICAGO -- Minutes after the Penguins' 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks last night, Michael Jackson's "Beat It" was blaring in the Penguins' locker room and winger Eric Godard was drawing howls with his dancing.

It didn't match the way the 22,689 rocked the packed United Center at times during the game, but it was raucous.

"We haven't had this much fun enough this season," said Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 41 saves. "It's great to win big games. Everybody's happy."

The pendulum swing would have been massive if things had turned out differently.

The Penguins blew two, two-goal leads before NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin one-timed a pass from Sergei Gonchar for the winner at 1:36 of overtime during a four-on-three power play.

Malkin wasn't part of the postgame celebration. He took a stick to the mouth early in the game and was having a chipped tooth looked at while his teammates partied after the win against one of the up-and-coming teams in the Western Conference -- one that is reminiscent of the Penguins last season when they won games in just about every manner possible and made a run to the Stanley Cup final.

The Penguins have Malkin and Sidney Crosby, although Crosby missed his second consecutive game because of a left groin injury. Chicago has linemates Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Toews had his first career hat trick, all on the power play, accounting for the Blackhawks' first three goals, and center Dave Bolland scored at 15:15 of the third period to tie the game, 4-4,. three seconds after a power play expired.

"If we hadn't gotten the positive result in the end, it would have been real disappointing thinking about the fact that we had two, two-goal leads at the start of a road trip, five games on the road, and the importance of this trip," said Dan Bylsma, who is 4-1-1 as Penguins interim coach.

"While there's lots of things to dissect and lots of things to talk about, the bottom line is, a tough building against a good team that came at us pretty hard and we were able to hang in there and get two points."

The reason for the Penguins' first two-goal lead was the line of center Jordan Staal with wingers Chris Kunitz and Tyler Kennedy, who later left the game because of illness.

Staal opened the scoring when he lifted a rebound over the left shoulder of Chicago goaltender Cristobal Huet at 3:36 of the first period.

Kunitz, acquired a day earlier in a trade from Anaheim, got an assist for his first point with his new team.

Kunitz followed that with his first goal as a Penguin. Staal put the puck off the end boards, and Kunitz grabbed it and moved to the left edge of the crease, where he slipped it under Huet at 8:44 of the first period for a 2-0 lead.

"We had a great first couple shifts, and that made it an easier transition into the game," Kunitz said.

The Blackhawks got one of those goals back when Toews ticked in a shot from the point by defenseman Cameron Barker for a power-play goal at 15:44 of the first period to make it 2-1.

Chicago had been on a 1-for-18 lull on the power play, including one earlier in the first period.

The Blackhawks tied it, 2-2, with another power-play goal by Toews at 6:37 of the second period. Skating in along the goal line to Fleury's left, Toews got off a weak shot that glanced off Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi and past Fleury's glove.

Toews thought he got his first career hat trick and gave Chicago a lead when he deflected in a shot from right in front at 15:09 of the second period -- bringing a flood of hardhats that were the promotional giveaway of the night -- but under review it was determined he used a high stick on the play.

"It was pretty close, I thought," Fleury said. "The whole time I had my fingers crossed. I started to yell at the ref to go check it out."

The Penguins came back with two goals before the end of the second period.

Winger Miroslav Satan swept a rebound past Huet at 18:24 to make it 3-2, and forward Max Talbot restored the Penguins' two-goal lead with 58.1 seconds left when his backhand shot glanced in off Chicago's Barker.

That prompted Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to replace Huet with Antti Niemi in goal for the start of the third period.

Toews got his hat trick when he swept the puck past Fleury for a power-play goal at 1:55 of the third period as Chicago closed it to 4-3.

Three seconds after a Blackhawks power play expired, Bolland tied the game, 4-4, when he shoveled in a bouncing puck.

"We wanted to start our road trip on the right foot, and I think we did." Talbot said. "It was a huge two points. It wasn't easy at times during the game, but we found a way to win, and that's what we used to do last year and that's what we've been doing lately."


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721. First Published February 28, 2009 5:00 AM


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