DETROIT – The banged-up Pittsburgh Penguins took another hit.
They just hope it’s not a big one.
Evgeni Malkin had a goal and two assists before hurting his left leg early in the third period of Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
“He was walking around after the game,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Malkin was in fact walking, but with a noticeable limp.
He got tangled up with Detroit’s Luke Glendening, lost his balance and his left skate took the brunt of a collision with the boards behind Pittsburgh’s net. Malkin slowly got up and kept his left skate in the air as he was helped off the ice. He was called for holding on the play, but couldn’t serve the penalty because he was being evaluated.
Malkin moved past the 600-point mark for his career during the game and ranks among league leaders with 41 points this season.
NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby scored two goals to help the Penguins win without standout defenceman Kris Letang, who was a late scratch because of an upper-body injury.
“Losing Kris before the game was tough,” Crosby said. “We stuck with it and found a way.”
Pittsburgh defenceman Brooks Orpik hasn’t played since being punched Dec. 7 by Boston’s Shawn Thornton, who was suspended by the league for 15 games on Saturday.
The Penguins might lose another player from their blue line because the NHL is trying to crack down on blows above the shoulders.
Defenceman Deryk Engelland put himself in danger of being suspended for an illegal hit to the head. Engelland landed his right shoulder high on Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader late in the first period and was ejected with a match penalty. Abdelkader struggled to get up, had to be helped off the ice and didn’t return.
“He dumps it in and I try to finish my check,” Engelland said. “Obviously I’m not trying to hit him in the head or anything like that, but I think I catch his chin a little bit before his body.”
Detroit defenceman Brendan Smith was suspended for five games two years ago for a similar hit.
“I know what it feels like because I’ve been in that position,” Smith said. “It’s a quick game, things happen.”
Pittsburgh’s Jeff Zatkoff made 28 saves, getting the start in part because he was playing near his hometown of Sterling Heights, Mich.
“He was pretty pumped up about playing back here at Joe Louis against the Red Wings,” Bylsma said. “He was strong.”
Jonas Gustavsson gave up three goals on 13 shots through two periods, playing in place of injured starter Jimmy Howard, and finished with 21 saves.
“When you let four goals in it’s tough to win,” he said. “I got to be better.”
The Red Wings got off to a good start. They went ahead 1-0 at 6:09 of the first period when Niklas Kronwall’s shot just inside the blue line went off Crosby’s stick, bounced off the ice and got past Zatkoff.
The lead didn’t last long.
Detroit went to the penalty box twice midway through the first period and the NHL’s top team on the power play took advantage.
Crosby scored at 9:08 of the first and Malkin made it 2-1 at the 12:50 mark of the period.
The Red Wings outshot Pittsburgh 14-4 in the second, which started with them on the power play for four-plus minutes because of Engelland’s penalty, but didn’t score.
“We didn’t do enough with it,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We had some looks. Their guy made some saves, but we were perimeter on the power play. Power play is establishing a net-front presence, shooting the puck and getting it back and outworking them to get retrievals and be on top of them.”
Olli Maatta gave Pittsburgh a two-goal lead in the final minute of the second period. Crosby, who started the night with an NHL-high 44 points, scored his second goal with five-plus minutes left.
“We started well on the power play and then were able to shut them down on the five-minute power play,” Crosby said. “That was an important part of the game.”
NOTES: Bylsma (U.S.) and Babcock (Canada) will lead their countries in two months at the Winter Olympics. … Penguins D Brian Dumoulin made his NHL debut.