The Penguins had a difficult time solving Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard and fell to the Red Wings, 4-1, tonight at Consol Energy Center in the teams' only meeting of the season.
It was the Penguins' first regulation loss against a Western Conference club. They are now 6-1-3 in those games.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead with 4.5 seconds left in the first period. Evgeni Malkin raced down the right side on a two-on-one with Chris Kunitz, and Detroit's Brad Stuart defending. From the right dot, Malkin whipped a low shot past goaltender Jimmy Howard on the far side.
Brooks Orpik started the play by blocking a Red Wings shot. James Neal got the puck and sent Malkin on his way.
Malkin had been listed as a game-time decision after missing the morning skate for an undisclosed reason.
The Red Wings tied it, 1-1, at 16:01 of the second period when Pavel Datsyuk rifled a backhand shot from the slot past the right pad of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Johan Franzen's power-play goal from the left circle gave Detroit a 2-1 lead at 5:15 of the third period. Datsyuk got the puck to Franzen after he intercepted Matt Cooke's clearing attempt.
Detroit pushed its lead to 3-1 at 15:36 of the third period when Dan Cleary scored off of a centering pass from former Penguin Chris Conner during a three-on-two rush.
Cleary added an empty-net goal with 5.9 seconds left in regulation.
The Penguins next play Friday at Ottawa.
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org , 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly First Published December 13, 2011 5:00 AM