PITTSBURGH, Pa. – James Neal recorded his second NHL hat trick, and Sidney Crosby had four assists in his first home game in more than three months as the Pittsburgh Penguins ripped the Winnipeg Jets 8-4 on Tuesday night.
Evgeni Malkin added two goals—including the 200th of his NHL career—and dished out three assists to lift his point total to an NHL-leading 93.
“You give them space and they eat you up,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. “That’s what they did.”
Pittsburgh bounced back from an overtime loss in Philadelphia, that ended an 11-game winning streak, and pulled within a point of the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.
Tyler Kennedy scored twice for Pittsburgh, which dealt the Jets a blow in their pursuit of a playoff spot. Winnipeg trails eighth-place Washington by four points with nine games remaining.
Bryan Little scored twice for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec was pulled in the second after allowing five Penguins goals on 24 shots.
Crosby has nine points in four games since his return from concussion-like symptoms. He fed linemate Tyler Kennedy for a pair of goals and helped set up power-play tallies by Neal and Malkin.
Not bad for a guy who has played only 12 games in 14 months.
“There are still areas where I need to get sharper,” said Crosby, who had over 19 minutes of ice time. “But everyone is playing so well … makes it easier for anyone coming back.”
PANTHERS 2, FLYERS 1
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Stephen Weiss and Sean Bergenheim both scored, and Scott Clemmensen stopped 35 shots to lead Florida to its fifth straight win.
Eric Wellwood scored for the Flyers.
Clemmensen was outstanding for the Southeast Division leaders and he outplayed counterpart Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov, chosen as the NHL’s first star for the second straight week, made 11 saves.
Clemmensen stopped all 11 shots in the first period to set the tone for the Panthers, who snapped a five-game losing streak to Philadelphia.
Bryzgalov was 8-0-1 with a 1.20 goals against average with four shutouts and a .960 save percentage to help the Flyers win three of four before Tuesday.
DEVILS 1, SENATORS 0
OTTAWA (AP)—Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 400th NHL goal, and backup goalie Johan Hedberg made it stand up in New Jersey’s slim victory over Ottawa.
While working the point on the power play, Kovalchuk took a pass from defenceman Marek Zidlicky and fired a slap shot past goalie Ben Bishop with 2:40 left in the second period. The calm Kovalchuk kept his arms down and waited at the blue-line for his teammates to come to him for a subdued celebration.
Kovalchuk also has 376 assists in 771 NHL regular-season games.
Subbing for Martin Brodeur, who lost 4-2 at the New York Rangers on Monday, Hedberg made 34 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. He saved a first-period penalty shot by Erik Condra.
Bishop made 33 saves.
KINGS 5, SHARKS 2
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards each had a goal and two assists, and Los Angeles moved into an eighth-place tie in the Western Conference with their fifth consecutive victory, topping stumbling San Jose.
Alec Martinez scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period, Dustin Penner added an insurance goal with 4:06 to play, and Jeff Carter added an empty-netter for the Kings, who moved into a second-place tie with the Phoenix Coyotes in the Pacific Division.
Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for Los Angeles, which is just one point behind the first-place Dallas Stars and holds a game in hand on the Coyotes.
Marty Havlat had a goal and an assist, and Dan Boyle scored with 13:04 left in the Sharks’ eighth loss in 11 games. Antti Niemi stopped 37 shots for the Sharks, who followed up Monday’s embarrassing home loss to last-place Anaheim with an undisciplined third period down the coast.
BLACKHAWKS 5, BLUE JACKETS 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Patrick Sharp scored two goals, Duncan Keith had four assists, and Corey Crawford made 24 saves as Chicago completed a season-series sweep of Columbus.
The Blackhawks outscored the Blue Jackets 31-10 in the six games. They won every game by at least three goals over Columbus, which has the worst record in the NHL.
Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa each had a goal and an assist, and Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago, which has won four in a row.
Crawford maintained a shutout until Rick Nash tipped in a shot by Jack Johnson to get the Blue Jackets on the board with 7:29 left.
Chicago scored on both of its power-play opportunities.
ISLANDERS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 2
TORONTO (AP)—Matt Moulson scored a power-play goal with just over six minutes remaining, and the New York Islanders handed Toronto its eighth straight home loss.
PA Parenteau’s breakaway goal less than two minutes later stretched New York’s lead and caused a cascade of boos from disgruntled Maple Leafs fans. Moulson made it 5-2 with an empty-net goal.
It was another poor performance for the Maple Leafs, who were beaten 8-0 at Boston on Monday in their worst loss of a disappointing season. Toronto has recorded only 27 total shots in the back-to-back losses, including 14 against New York.
Josh Bailey and David Ullstrom also scored for the Islanders (30-32-11). John Tavares had three assists, and Parenteau added two.
Phil Kessel and Matthew Lombardi had goals for Toronto (32-34-8), 4-15-2 since Feb. 7.
STARS 4, COYOTES 3, SO
DALLAS (AP)—Mike Ribeiro had three assists in regulation, then scored in the second round of the shootout to lift Dallas into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division with a victory over Phoenix.
Ribeiro faked Mike Smith out of position and slid a backhand into an open net for the only goal of the shootout. Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen denied Mikkel Boedker, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan in the tiebreaker.
The Stars carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s short-handed goal at 8:51 got the Coyotes within one.
Whitney tied it at 3-3 at 14:58 of the third period with his 23rd of the season.
Michael Ryder scored twice for Dallas, including a second-period power-play goal.
Loui Eriksson also scored for the Stars and had the primary assist on both of Ryder’s goals.
OILERS 6, PREDATORS 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Ales Hemsky scored three goals for his first hat trick in the NHL, and Edmonton beat Nashville.
Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Jones and Sam Gagner also had goals, and Devan Dubnyk made 40 saves for Edmonton. David Legwand scored twice for Nashville, and Patric Hornqvist added a goal and an assist.
Pekka Rinne was pulled in the second period by Predators coach Barry Trotz after allowing three goals on seven shots. Anders Lindback played the rest of the way and stopped 10 of 12 shots.
Gagner scored into an empty net.
AVALANCHE 2, FLAMES 1, OT
DENVER (AP)—David Jones knocked in a rebound 3:51 into overtime to lift Colorado past Calgary.
Miikka Kiprusoff turned away a shot from Paul Stastny, but the rebound trickled away. Jones skated in and drove the puck into the net, giving the Avalanche their first win in five games against the Flames this season. It was Kiprusoff’s first loss in 11 starts against Colorado.
Matt Stajan gave Calgary a 1-0 lead in the first period. Stastny tied it later in the period.