PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby and Mark Letestu scored power-play goals in the first period and the Penguins won their third in a row, ruining defenseman Sergei Gonchar's return to Pittsburgh by beating the slow-starting Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Monday night.
Evgeni Malkin also scored as the Penguins won their fourth in five games since losing three of their first four games. All three of those losses were in the new Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins have since won their past two.
Gonchar, the power play anchor of the Penguins' Stanley Cup finalist teams in 2008 and 2009, didn't have a memorable return in his first game back in a visiting uniform.
Gonchar was on the ice for every goal in the first two periods as Pittsburgh took a 5-1 lead, causing an exasperated coach Cory Clouston to bench goalie Brian Elliott for Robin Lehner. Elliott was pulled after stopping only 17 of 22 shots.
Ottawa, a first-round playoff loser to Pittsburgh last season, is 1-4-1 — partly because of a power play that is only 2 of 24, including captain Daniel Alfredsson's first goal of the season.
Alfredsson made it 3-1 at 5:40 of the second, but Pascal Dupuis — moved back to Crosby's No. 1 line — and Kris Letang responded with goals 25 seconds apart.
Penguins backup goalie Brent Johnson, making his third consecutive start, turned aside 32 shots while improving to 4-0 this season. Marc-Andre Fleury, who last started in Pittsburgh's 4-3 loss at home to Toronto on Wednesday, is 0-3.
Johnson's best stop came when he poked the puck off Mike Fisher's stick as he neared the net on a breakaway with the Penguins up 5-2 midway through the third period.
Letestu, the Penguins' surprise scorer with four goals in seven games, took advantage of a too many men on the ice penalty for Ottawa to put a knuckleball-like shot under the crossbar at 8:39 of the first. Three minutes later, Gonchar received a standing ovation from the standing-room crowd of 18,101 during a scoreboard tribute.
Gonchar also was on the ice for Crosby's third goal in two games. Alex Goligoski's shot went wide and deflected to the side of the net, where Crosby shoved it inside the near post with Malkin by his side at 13:53.
Malkin scored himself slightly more than three minutes later, when Letestu won a faceoff in the Ottawa zone and the puck banked off Mike Comrie to the front of the net for a 3-0 Penguins lead.
Letestu, a rookie who made the roster after the Penguins didn't bring back forwards Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Alex Ponikarovsky, had one goal in 10 games last season.
NOTES: Crosby had five goals and nine assists in Pittsburgh's six-game playoff series win against the Senators last spring. He previously had only two regular-season goals in 17 games against them. ... Pittsburgh was 2 for 3 on the power play and is 7 for 28 in its past six games. ... Ottawa has been outscored 17-8 while going 0-3-1 on the road.