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Pens leave no doubt in 4-1 beating of Detroit

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Evgeni Malkin rattled off four points, while Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each added goals in the 4-1 dismantling of Detroit Saturday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena.

Seven days of rest can rejuvenate many facets on the ice.

For the Penguins Saturday, the week’s sabbatical helped spring a finely-tuned, complete game at the expense of the Red Wings.

With Evgeni Malkin’s two goals (18, 19) spearheading the road to victory, the Pens’ 4-1 beating of Detroit (17-18-7) continued a winning streak that is now up to three games. 

Malkin rocked the net just three minutes into the game when scoring over Jimmy Howard on a precision Carl Hagelin pass that set an early tone. 

“Just playing my game,” said Malkin, who has tallied up 18 points in 13 games.  “Couple of lucky goals.  The power play worked tonight.  Just more confidence and getting more time.  When you score you feel so much better.”

“We understand that’s not easy with so many days off and right back to it,” continued the center.  “We did a great job.  It was like, so many (penalty kills,) but our [defense] did a really good job.  We’ve been playing so much better on the (penalty kill) and the power play.  It’s a good win that gives us more confidence.”

Pittsburgh (23-19-3,) who leads the league in the power play, found pay dirt twice on the man-advantage, including a Phil Kessel (19) backdoor finish on Howard after Sidney Crosby set the wing up from the blue line to break a 1-1 tie near the end of the first period.  Kessel would return the favor on a Crosby finish on the Pens’ third period power play to close the scoring.

MIKE SULLIVAN POST GAME VIDEO

Detroit’s Howard surrendered all four goals on 36 total shots by the Penguins pasted on the netminder.

“It’s hard to score, and there are going to be games with less special teams and we’re going to have score 5-on-5,” said the red-hot Crosby, who now has nine points in three games, including a goal and an assist Saturday.  “Consistency is a big challenge, but if we play that way, we give ourselves a big chance of producing.”

Despite giving up Detroit’s lone goal to Andreas Athanasiou, the Pens’ penalty kill stood tall, stuffing the Red Wings on six of its seven power play opportunities. 

“We took some penalties, and made it tough on ourselves having to kill so many,” said Sid.  “I thought we did a good job of getting those kills and finding a way of keeping them out.”

Carl Hagelin served as the linchpin of success on the kill, tallying up 8:02 on the special team’s unit.  The blue line also saw a heavier workload, with Kris Letang checking in at a game-high 26:36 and Brian Dumoulin at 21:01.

“We have the ability to use the whole bench, [but] when you take the types of penalties, or the amount of penalties that went on in the game tonight, it was hard to utilize the bench, because it takes the line rotation out of the flow,” explained Mike Sullivan.  “That was a little bit more of a challenge for us tonight, but I really liked our energy and our compete level.”

Starting in place of Matt Murray, who returned home to Ontario for a personal family matter just a day ago, Tristan Jarry pieced together a solid flow for 60 minutes, stopping 29 of 30 shots he faced, including all 14 in the third period.

“I think it was a good rebound,” said Jarry, who was coming off a brutal five-goal shortened (pulled for Murray) game last Sunday against Boston.  “I just wanted to come back and play a solid game.  I think Iw as able to limit the chances and keep the rebounds tight.  I think that was something that helped me a lot tonight.”

After the moneyline

Pittsburgh came in as an overwhelming -200 favorites, while also winning on the -1.5 puck line (win by two or more goals) for the first time since a Dec. 2 5-1 win over Buffalo.

The 5.5 goal total hung in for the final 16:29 of the game, going under for the seventh time in the last 10 games.

Up next

The Pens will hit the home ice again tomorrow night, when they host the Rangers.  Puck drops at 7:30.

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