nam icePittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) and Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) chase the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Crosby, Malkin help troubling year for Pens end on high note

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Pittsburgh has surprisingly been one of the worst teams offensively this season, but every now and then they have a game that reminds you of the Penguins of old.

Tonight’s contest against Detroit certainly didn’t start off like an example of that as the Red Wings got off to a 2-0 lead. Despite that, the Penguins rallied back to earn a 5-2 victory, making this just the fourth time in 2015-16 that Pittsburgh managed to earn a win after going into the first intermission with a deficit.

Better still, it was a case of their superstars living up to that title. Evgeni Malkin played a big role with a goal and two assists while Sidney Crosby netted the game-winner as he continues to rally back after his slow start to the season.

Pittsburgh’s special teams also played a key role. The Penguins entered this game with the 26th ranked power play in the league, but Patric Hornqvist and Kris Letang both found the back of the net with the man advantage.

This all allowed the Penguins to close out the month on a high note, but it has still been a challenging time for them. The Penguins went 5-8-2 in December and will enter the new year behind in the Wild Card race.

Suffice it to say they’ll need to provide more examples of what they’re capable of going forward.

Video: Letang takes another big hit, some vintage Crosby

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Even relatively good nights for the Pittsburgh Penguins often tend to mix a little bad in with the good.

As you can see above, there was a scare in Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, as Leo Komarov delivered a scary hit on frequently injured defenseman Kris Letang.

Early indications are that Letang is OK, but we’ve seen plenty of players see negative effects later on, Letang included.

It’s not all gloomy for Pens fans tonight, though, as we’ve also seen some “vintage” Sidney Crosby. He scored a nice goal, but it’s his assist on a Chris Kunitz power-play tally that really screamed No. 87 at his best:

As of this writing, the good with the bad extends to the score: a 2-2 tie.

Update: The Maple Leafs ended up winning 3-2 via a shootout.

Crosby shines in return as Penguins beat Wild 3-1

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, center, celebrates his goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist in his return after a one-game absence for a lower-body injury and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 Saturday night.

Eric Fehr and Patric Hornqvist also scored and the Penguins won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 17-19. Pittsburgh beat Columbus 5-2 Monday night without Crosby.

Matt Murray made 25 saves and Pittsburgh won for just the third time in its past 10 games. Kris Letang had a pair of assists after missing the past six games with an upper-body injury.

Minnesota has lost six of its last seven against Pittsburgh. Jason Zucker had the Wild’s goal, and Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves.

Pittsburgh’s five-goal outburst Monday included two scores each by Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Over their previous five games, the Penguins had scored just six times and earned just one point in the standings.

After a four-day layoff, the Penguins held an 11-4 shot advantage in the first period and started the second with a flurry. Pittsburgh had the period’s first five shots and finally capitalized with Crosby’s first goal in eight games and second in 12.

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter turned the puck over in the neutral zone, leading to a Pittsburgh rush. David Perron ultimately got the puck near the left corner and quickly passed to Crosby just above the left dot. His one-timer beat Dubnyk on the stick side.

Pittsburgh had nine of the period’s first 10 shots with Minnesota’s lone shot coming on a power play. The Penguins held a 20-5 shot advantage through 28 minutes. The difference was 27-12 after two periods.

Fehr made it 2-0 with 1:50 remaining in the second period when, charging down the slot, he tipped a pass from Kevin Porter past Dubnyk.

Zucker scored for Minnesota 45 seconds later when his shot from the left circle eluded Murray, but Pittsburgh went up 3-1 on Hornqvist’s power-play goal 31 seconds after that.

Letang’s shot from the top of the slot bounced off the end boards to Crosby at the right post. Dubnyk stopped Crosby’s stuff attempt, but the rebound trickled across the crease to Hornqvist. He swatted the puck in while fighting off a defender.

NOTES: Pittsburgh began a stretch where it will play seven of 10 games on the road. … Minnesota fell to 13-5-1 on home ice. … The Penguins recalled F Scott Wilson from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. … Ryan Carter was a scratch for Minnesota. He’s nursing an upper-body injury.

Pittsburgh gets Crosby, Letang back tonight

Marc-Andre Fleury; Joffrey Lupul
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The Penguins are getting a pair of key reinforcements back for Saturday’s tilt in Minnesota.

Sidney Crosby, who missed the final game prior to the break, and Kris Letang — out since Dec. 9 with an upper-body ailment — will draw back in, per head coach Mike Sullivan.

Crosby took this morning’s skate centering David Perron and Chris Kunitz, while Letang was in a defensive pairing alongside Olli Maatta.

“I feel good,” Crosby said, per the Pens website. “To get basically a week (off) has been good. I’m happy with the way I felt this morning.

“It’s just a matter of trusting that you can go out there and take hits. It’s different from a morning skate, but you have to be confident about it. I felt good today. That’s a good thing.”

Crosby: Some ugly goals could hopefully open ‘flood gates’ for Penguins

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Two games into the Mike Sullivan tenure in Pittsburgh, and the Penguins have just one goal. Not surprisingly, the result is an 0-2 record to start this new era.

Despite a hefty edge in shot attempts — 69 shot attempts for and 52 shot attempts against, according to hockeystats.ca — they couldn’t beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask in a 3-0 loss to the Bruins on Wednesday. They also had a share of bad luck with shots clanging off the goal post.

“Those things happen, but we’ve got to find a way to score some ugly ones,” Penguins’ Sidney Crosby told NHL.com.

“Once we get one or two, hopefully the flood gates open up for us but we can’t let it bother us; at the same time, we can’t accept it. I mean, yeah we hit a couple crossbars, but teams hit crossbars and they score different ways too. That’s totally on us to find ways to score goals and it might have to be ugly ones until we start to get some bounces.”