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Malkin's hat trick lifts Penguins over skidding Lightning

Jan 16, 2012 - 12:15 AM
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Evgeni Malkin recorded a natural hat trick in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Malkin also had two assists while James Neal scored twice for the Penguins, who have won two straight after a six-game slide. Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 17 shots.

Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell and Matt Gilroy all scored for the Lightning, who have dropped seven straight. Mathieu Garon gave up five goals on 43 shots in the loss.

It's the longest losing streak for Tampa Bay since the team ended the 2008-09 season with an 0-7-2 skid.

"When you're winning games you're scoring goals and playing good defense," said Malone. "Right now we're not doing that and it kills your confidence."

Tampa scored three times over a five-minute span in the third to tie the game at 3-3 on Purcell's goal, but Malkin scored his first as he grabbed a loose puck along the left boards after a scrum in the corner and put a high backhander in from the slot at 7:38.

Just two minutes later, Malkin made it a 5-3 game when he skated the puck down the left wing, cut to the front and backhanded it in as he was being tipped by Garon.

Malkin finished the eighth hat trick of his career with less than a minute to play.

"We got too relaxed out there at the start of the third," said Malkin. "But the guys rallied and we finished great to get a big two points."

The Penguins scored 2:43 into the game on the power play as Neal's shot from a sharp angle at the right side.

It was 2-0 Pittsburgh halfway though the first when Richard Park got the puck at the right point, got around a defender and cut to the slot before wristing it past an unscreened Garon.

After a scoreless second period, the Pens took a 3-0 lead 34 seconds into the third on the power play while Neal one-timed home a Malkin feed at the right circle for his 24th of the year.

Tampa, though, got one back at the two-minute mark of the third as Steven Stamkos sent a pass from behind the net to the right side where Gilroy one- timed it in.

Less than three minutes later on the power play, Malone redirected a Vinny Lecavalier pass into the net and the Lightning tied the game at the 6:50 mark as Purcell backhanded home a rebound of a right point shot.

Game Notes

Pittsburgh hosts Carolina on Tuesday...Tampa hosts Boston on Tuesday...These teams split the series last season while Tampa took a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh at home on Nov. 17...Pittsburgh went 2-for-5 on the power play while Tampa was 1-for-1.