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Evgeni Malkin scores in shootout as Pittsburgh beats the Blackhawks 5-4

Evgeni Malkin tied the game late in the third period after Pittsburgh wasted a multiple-goal lead for the third game in a row, then teamed with Erik Christensen to score in the shootout as the Penguins rallied to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 Wednesday night.

The Penguins gained at least a point for the 14th consecutive game (12-0-2) - the first time they've done that since they won 12 times and tied twice from Dec. 19, 1996, through Jan. 21, 1997. They've also won their last four shootouts after losing five of their first six, a major reason why they are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference after being out of the playoff picture only a few weeks ago.

"With the skill they have and the streak they're on, they're hungry," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "They were hungry the whole game. It's tough to contain them."

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a game-saving left skate save on Martin Havlat only seconds into overtime, then stopped Havlat and Bryan Smolinski with glove saves in the shootout.

"Fleury made a great save in overtime," Savard said. "That's the save. We had a game-winner on our stick."

Fleury said, "That was the most I could stretch - and I just got a piece of it."

Christensen began the shootout by beating Nikolai Khabibulin with a shot under the crossbar, and Malkin also got the puck past Khabibulin by faking a shot before pulling it back and pushing a backhander inside the far post.

"I thought he was going to shoot so I got a little frozen, but he tucked it in," Khabibulin said. "I felt like we earned a point the way we played, but then we gave one away."

Crosby, the NHL scoring leader with 88 points, got an assist but failed to score a goal for an eighth consecutive game - the longest streak of his two-season career. He went seven games without a goal a few weeks into his rookie season.

The Penguins also lost a two-goal lead Thursday in Philadelphia and a three-goal lead Saturday in Toronto, although they came back to win both. They have four shootout wins and one in overtime during their 14-game point streak.

"It wasn't easy, but we found a way again," Crosby said. "No doubt it's rewarding to dig deep when you need to late in games, but we can't depend on that all the time."

Tuomo Ruutu completed Chicago's rally from a 3-1 deficit by scoring with about seven minutes remaining in regulation off Martin Lapointe's pass, putting the Blackhawks up 4-3. Ruutu appeared to come off the Chicago bench and score without a player going off, but the Penguins couldn't convince referees Dean Warren and Ian Walsh to reverse the goal.

"That last goal, they had too many men on the ice," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

The Penguins, clearly unhappy with the call, tied it 4-4 about a minute later on Malkin's 28th goal after Therrien put Malkin and Crosby together on a line. Khabibulin turned aside Crosby's shot, but Malkin gathered the rebound and pushed it inside the near post on his second attempt.

"I was able to stop the first shot, but after the first rebound I lost sight of it," Khabibulin said.

Ronald Petrovicky, Maxime Talbot and Michel Ouellet also scored for Pittsburgh, with Talbot getting his fourth short-handed goal of the season early in the second period to match Craig MacDonald's short-handed score for Chicago in the first period.

Patrick Sharp and Martin St. Pierre also had goals for Chicago, with St. Pierre getting his first in the NHL. He was playing in his eighth career game.

Notes: Petrovicky's goal was his third in nine games after he went all season without one. . . . Chicago is 2-6 in shootouts. . .n. The Penguins allowed their 11th short-handed goal. . . . Despite snowy, icy weather, there were only scattered empty seats in the sellout crowd of 17,051. . . . Chicago, 2-4-2 against the Eastern Conference, went 4-2-1 on a demanding seven-game road trip that began in Los Angeles and extended into Calgary and Vancouver before heading East. The Blackhawks face Vancouver at home Friday before heading to New York and Detroit.



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