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(Monday, December 9th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 2, Columbus 1
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby both lit the lamp as the Pittsburgh Penguins took possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Olli Maatta, Deryk Engelland, Pascal Dupuis and Jussi Jokinen supplied the assists on the two goals, while Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 32-of-33 shots as the Penguins won for the sixth time in their last seven games.
Matt Calvert contributed the Blue Jackets' lone goal late in the third period. Curtis McElhinney allowed two goals on 30 shots as Pittsburgh snapped Columbus' two-game win streak.
After a scoreless first, Malkin raced through the neutral zone and up the right wing with the puck on his backhand. He breezed by Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin and moved it to his forehand to beat McElhinney 4:16 into the second.
"I don't know if it was just a broken play or what, but you have an elite guy like that coming with a head of steam," McElhinney said. "He's got a lot of options and obviously the one I tried against him didn't work.
Malkin, who missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, ended a Blue Jackets' shutout streak that spanned four games and an overall time of 162:01.
Pittsburgh added another goal in the third. Maatta jumped up on the play in the neutral zone and passed to Dupuis on the right wing. Dupuis then threw the puck on net, where Crosby and Columbus' Nick Foligno battled for it. The puck went off Crosby and into the net.
Calvert cut the lead in half with 56.5 seconds left after the Blue Jackets pulled McElhinney. Mark Letestu took the puck off the boards at the left side of the net and dished it back to Calvert, who was there to quickly put the puck past Fleury.
Both teams were missing key players. Reigning Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky was not in goal for Columbus due to a strained groin, while Pittsburgh did not have suspended forward James Neal and defenseman Brooks Orpik, who was placed on injured reserve Monday due to a head injury.
Neal was handed a five-game suspension for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head during Saturday's game against the Bruins.
"It's tough [to not have Neal for five games]," Crosby said. "Especially after you [Neal] battle through an injury for quite a bit and came back as strong as he did. It's tough for him watching, it's tough for us losing him for a bit of time here, but we'll just try to keep moving forward."
Malkin has points in each of his last 10 games, while Crosby is riding a four- game point streak ... The Penguins have won four straight games over the Blue Jackets and are now 8-1-1 in their last 10 meetings with Columbus.
12/10 01:31:30 ET