PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks had gone two years and 157 games since they last faced each other.
They picked up right where they left off.
Back in 2011, Evgeni Malkin scored the deciding goal in the shootout as the Penguins earned a season-opening victory at Vancouver.
The site changed on Saturday, but the result was the same.
Malkin scored in the third round of the shootout, and Marc-Andre Fleury made the deciding stop on Ryan Kesler as the Penguins remained unbeaten at home with a 4-3 win over the Canucks.
“The goal Evgeni scored in Vancouver was similar to the one he got (Saturday),” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “He moved out wide, got Luongo down and scored the winner.”
Malkin skated down the right-wing boards and moved across the ice, curling his stick to stuff the puck past goalie Roberto Luongo with a backhander.
“When Malkin came down, I wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do, and unfortunately, I bit on the fake and he went backhand,” Luongo said. “I wish I would have been a bit more patient maybe on that one.”
Sidney Crosby moved into a tie atop the NHL leaderboard with his seventh goal of the season, and had two assists. Chris Kunitz netted his fourth goal and added two assists, and rookie defenceman Olli Maatta scored his first NHL goal for the Penguins, who won for the 20th time in 22 home games.
The Penguins, who won a season-high fourth straight game, are 5-0 at home—their best start since the 1994-95 season.
Fleury stopped a season-high 36 shots for his NHL-leading seventh win of the season, denying Kesler, Alexander Edler, and Mike Santorelli in the shootout. The Penguins are 19-3 in their last 22 shootouts, winning 11 of 12 and six straight.
Luongo, who made 25 saves, stopped Crosby and Jussi Jokinen in the shootout before Malkin scored his eighth game-deciding shootout goal.
Zack Kassian scored a third-period goal, and Edler and Brad Richardson also scored for the Canucks, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Kevin Bieksa added three assists.
“We found a way to get a point,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “You always want to get two points, but we’ll take one in a pretty tough building to play in.”
The teams were tied at 2 after two periods and traded goals in the third, scoring 22 seconds apart. Kassian gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead at 7:10, using a backhander to redirect Bieksa’s shot from the point behind Fleury.
Maatta scored 22 seconds later, crashing the net to slam home the rebound from Kunitz’s slap shot.
“It’s always fun to see guys score their first goal,” Crosby said. “That never gets old, seeing the joy and seeing how happy he was. It was pretty cool, and obviously a big goal for us, too.”
Brandon Sutter had a chance to put the Penguins ahead when he was awarded a penalty shot with 1:24 left in regulation, but Luongo’s glove save sent the game to overtime.
“I thought we carried most of the play,” Luongo said. “We forechecked well, we turned pucks over. Obviously, they’re a good team and we held our own. It was good.”
Crosby extended his point streak to eight games, his longest stretch to start a season. Crosby, who leads the NHL with 17 points, has recorded multiple points in four consecutive games. He also has a 16-game point streak against Canadian-based teams.
“I don’t feel that different to be honest,” Crosby said, comparing this season’s start to others.
Vancouver, in the midst of a season-high, seven-game road swing, started the trip with a pair of wins, including a 3-0 victory Thursday at Buffalo.
The Canucks were in line for their third straight win, twice taking the lead against the Penguins, who hadn’t trailed at home this season.
The Canucks left Pittsburgh still feeling confident. Their trip continues Sunday at Columbus.
“I thought we played well,” Tortorella said. “I thought we controlled a lot of the game, I thought we did a really good job in the neutral zone as far as creating turnovers, and I thought we played quick.”
A fluky bounce helped the Canucks score the game’s first goal at 13:49 of the opening period. Edler’s slap shot from centre ice hit Fleury in the chest and popped into the air. It dropped behind him and trickled across the goal line.
Crosby answered less than two minutes later, whacking the rebound of Pascal Dupuis’ slap shot past Luongo.
The Penguins jumped ahead with a power-play goal at 12:04 of the second, taking advantage of a Vancouver penalty for too many men on the ice.
Malkin set up the goal from behind the net, taking Luongo to one post before sending a pass to the opposite side, where Kunitz was there to one-time the puck.
Richardson, playing in his 400th career NHL game, tied it less than five minutes later with his second goal in two games. Richardson took a feed from Dale Weise in the slot off the rush and roofed a shot over Fleury’s glove from below the right faceoff dot.
NOTES: Malkin’s assist tied him with Syl Apps for fifth in franchise history. … Penguins F Chris Conner, recalled from the AHL on Friday, replaced Harry Zolnierczyk, who was a healthy scratch. The Penguins also scratched F Beau Bennett (lower body) and Dustin Jeffrey. … Canucks C Jordan Schroeder left the game in the second period. Tortorella didn’t have an update on his condition. … The Canucks sent C Zac Dalpe to Utica of the AHL on a conditioning assignment. D Yannick Weber and Andrew Alberts were scratched.