PITTSBURGH — Evgeni Malkin had his 15th career hat trick and added an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins drilled the reeling Detroit Red Wings 11-2 on Sunday night.
Sidney Crosby, Kasperi Kapanen, Jeff Carter, Teddy Blueger, Danton Heinen, Brian Boyle and recently acquired Rickard Rakell also scored for the Penguins, who needed less than 30 minutes to take a 6-0 lead on their way to their first 11-goal game in nearly 30 years. Tristan Jarry made 33 saves to win for the sixth time in his last seven starts.
Pittsburgh bounced back from a listless loss to the New York Rangers on Friday by overwhelming the Red Wings, showcasing their firepower in the process by putting up the franchise’s first 11-goal game since an 11-5 win over Philadelphia on Nov. 16, 1993.
The Penguins also stayed one point ahead of the Rangers for second place in the tight Metropolitan Division. New York visits PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night.
Dylan Larkin scored his 28th goal for Detroit and Jakub Vrana added his sixth, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Red Wings lost for the ninth time in 11 games. Alex Nedeljkovic absorbed most of Pittsburgh’s early onslaught, giving up four goals before being replaced by Calvin Pickard after Carter’s short-handed goal 3:18 into the second made it 4-0.
Pickard fared no better, giving up four goals on 13 shots before exiting in the third period after a collision with Rakell, forcing Nedeljkovic to come back in. He fared no better the second time around than he did the first, ultimately allowing seven goals on 22 total shots faced.
Two days after being outplayed from the start by the Rangers, Pittsburgh responded by showcasing the kind of depth they’ll need if they want to make a deep playoff run.
The Penguins added Rakell at the deadline last week in hopes of taking some of the scoring pressure off of Crosby and Malkin. While the two superstars had little trouble finding the net against Detroit, they had plenty of help. Five of Pittsburgh’s goals came from players in the bottom six: Carter, Heinen, Kapanen, Blueger and Boyle.
Kapanen scored his second goal in six games by starting the deluge with a pretty move that left him alone with Nedeljkovic. One deke and Kapanen had little trouble tapping the puck into the empty net for his 11th goal just 4:16 in.
The ease with which Kapanen scored was a sign of things to come. Blueger doubled the lead 14:23 into the first with a shot off the rush. Malkin’s first goal – a slap shot on the power play directly after a faceoff – made it 3-0 less than 2 minutes into the second. Carter’s short-handed goal – just the third of the season by Pittsburgh – pushed it to 4-0 and chased Nedeljkovic.
Rust’s goal after Pickard entered also gave Malkin 696 career assists, tied with Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov for the most by a Russian-born player.
Goals late in the second by Larkin and Vrana – Vrana’s on a pretty play in which he stripped Pittsburgh defenseman Mike Matheson and quickly rifled a shot past Jarry – briefly gave the Red Wings life, but only briefly. Crosby’s 24th goal of the season off a nice cross-ice feed from Evan Rodrigues just 77 seconds after Vrana’s score added more fuel to an already roaring fire.
Red Wings: Get a couple of days off to recover before hosting the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Penguins: Try to exact a bit of revenge on the Rangers on Tuesday night.