Pittsburgh, PA – Evgeni Malkin returned from a four-game absence to post a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
Malkin, last year's Hart Trophy winner, had been out due to a concussion he suffered in a game against Florida on Feb. 22, but was back on the ice to help the Penguins to their second straight win.
Sidney Crosby added a goal and an assist while Chris Kunitz and James Neal also scored for Pittsburgh, which got 25 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury.
"It's not always easy but we do our best to make sure we produce," said Crosby. "Tonight was no different, they were tough there through those first two periods, but we started to get things together in the third and it paid off."
Steven Stamkos scored twice while Tom Pyatt also scored for the Lightning, who have dropped their past five games.
"The players now what we want to do and how to do it," said Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher. "We were playing hard and we were playing good, but we sabotaged ourselves with turnovers. It's important that we break those habits of being impatient."
Mathieu Garon started in net for Tampa but left just 2:19 into the second period with an undisclosed injury. He stopped 12-of-13 shots while Anders Lindback allowed two goals on 18 shots in the loss.
Trailing by a goal in the third, Pittsburgh tied the game off a Tampa turnover. Eric Brewer attempted a pass out of his zone, but it hit off Malkin in the neutral zone and went back in the Lightning end. Malkin caught up to the puck and skated to the front before slamming it home at the 5:38 mark.
Less than two minutes later, the Penguins took a 3-2 lead when Kris Letang skated around the net from right to left and fired the puck back to the right side where Crosby one-timed it home.
Lindback was pulled for an extra skater late, and Neal appeared to seal the outcome on an empty-netter with 52 seconds left, but Tampa kept Lindback out and Stamkos made it a one-goal game when he whacked the puck out of the air for his NHL-leading 17th goal of the season with eight seconds showing.
The Lightning, though, didn't have enough time to net the equalizer.
Pittsburgh drew first blood at the 4:13 mark of the first when Crosby held off a checker while holding on to the puck before sending a backhand pass from the left circle to the slot for a one-timer by Kunitz that beat Garon.
The score stayed that way until the second period when, shortly after Garon left, the Lightning tied the game. Martin St. Louis sent a slap pass from the right point to the left side where Victor Hedman pushed it to the front and Stamkos re-directed it in.
Tampa made it a 2-1 game with 8:01 to play in the second period when Nate Thompson's turnaround shot from the slot deflected off the shoulder of Pyatt and floated in.
Tampa Bay plays in New Jersey on Tuesday ... Pittsburgh plays in Philadelphia on Thursday ... The Penguins have won both games against the Lightning this season, including a 5-3 victory in Pittsburgh on Feb. 24 ... Kunitz has a career-high six-game point streak, totaling six goals and three assists during the run.