TAMPA, Fla. – Evgeni Malkin had five points and a third-period dustup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And all he wanted to talk about after the game Sunday was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 6-3 win.
Malkin had a natural hat trick to go along with two assists, and James Neal added two goals for the Penguins, who recovered from a blown three-goal lead and skated off with a victory.
“I didn’t think about playing a great game … I know we have two points,” Malkin said.
Malkin scored twice in a stretch of 1:49 midway through the third period to put Pittsburgh ahead 5-3 after the Penguins had squandered a 3-0 edge earlier in the frame. He completed his eighth career hat trick and fifth five-point game with an empty-net goal with 56 seconds to play.
Richard Park had the other goal for the Penguins, who have won two straight following a six-game losing streak.
Malkin and Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier were part of the first of two third-period scrums that resulted in penalties.
Malkin received a roughing penalty, while Lecavalier got a pair of roughing minors and a 10-minute misconduct at 12:11.
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said Lecavalier felt Malkin went for his knees on an earlier play.
“In those situations, he’s a captain and he wants to show that we’re not going to take everything and just be little poodles and wait for things to happen,” Boucher said. “So, for me, there’s absolutely no blame on his part there. That was his way of showing that we’re not going to take it.”
The Lightning said Lecavalier left before the locker-room was opened after the game.
Malkin said he moved downward after not seeing Lecavalier until the last second on the potential check.
“I just wanted to play hockey … I’m not going to fight,” Malkin said of the scrum. “I wanted to stay on the ice.”
Matt Gilroy, Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell scored for the Lightning, who have lost seven straight and dropped into last place in the Eastern Conference.
“Same story,” Malone said. “The game starts at (1 p.m.), so we have to be ready, and we weren’t ready. I don’t know what to say.”
Malkin scored on an in-close backhander at 7:38 of the third to break the 3-3 tie and then skated in from the left wing boards and beat Mathieu Garon with another backhander with 10:33 remaining.
At 2:00 of the third, Gilroy scored his first goal in 71 games, dating to Jan. 5, 2011, to make it 3-1. Malone then connected on Tampa Bay’s first power play at 4:53, and Purcell tied it with a rebound goal past Marc-Andre Fleury at 6:50.
“You’re looking up and having two really good periods of hockey evaporate on you,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “We had a lot of guys step up when we needed it, when things were unraveling there.”
Neal scored his second of the game, and 12th power-play goal, to make it 3-0 just 34 seconds into the third. He gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead during a power play 2:43 into the game.
“It gives us momentum when we score on the power play,” Neal said. “You want to do anything you can to get that goal in the man-advantage, and we’re doing a great job moving the puck around in a shot-first mentality.”
Park made it 2-0 from the slot at 10:38 of the first to snap his 17-game goal drought.
The Penguins outshot Tampa Bay 17-5 in the first. The Lightning have been outscored 54-30 during the opening period this season.
Pittsburgh had second-period shots by Park and Ben Lovejoy hit posts, and the Lightning had a potential goal wiped out when it was ruled that Malone put the puck into the net with a high stick. The call was upheld after a video view.
Neal and Tampa Bay’s Pavel Kubina were given 10-minute misconducts following the second scrum of the third at 12:16.
NOTES: Penguins C Sidney Crosby (concussion-like symptoms) watched the game. Crosby, who has missed the past 16 games, resumed skating on Friday. … Malkin also had three goals and five points on Dec. 17 against Buffalo. … Lightning RW Martin St. Louis has gone 11 games without agoal, but has 13 assists during that time. He had one assist on Sunday. … Pittsburgh had been 1-for-18 on the power play before Neal’s goal in the first. The Penguins converted 2-of-5 opportunties. … Tampa Bay D Marc-Andre Bergeron missed his second straight game because of an undisclosed upper body injury.