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November 30, 2013

Malkin powers Penguins past Panthers, 5-1

SUNRISE, Fla. — Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and had three assists to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers, 5-1 on Saturday night.

Jussi Jokinen, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Joe Vitale also scored goals for Pittsburgh, who won its third straight game. Jeff Zatkoff stopped 39 shots, including 15 in the first period.

Malkin has four goals and 13 assists during an eight-game point streak.

Scottie Upshall scored for Florida and Tim Thomas allowed four goals on 13 shots. Thomas was replaced by Scott Clemmensen to start the third period. Clemmensen made five saves.

Thomas also gave up four goals in the Panthers’ last game, a 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Florida has lost four of its last five games.

The goalie change didn’t slow down the Penguins. Jokinen took a pass from Malkin in the slot and rifled it over the glove of Clemmensen at 6:10 to make it 5-1.

Trailing 3-0, the Panthers got on the board on Upshall’s power-play goal in the second. Upshall brought the puck in from the left side and beat Zatkoff with a backhander at 17:53.

The Penguins got it right back when Neal scored just 29 seconds later. Neal’s wrist shot from low in the right circle whistled past Thomas to make it 4-1. Neal has 13 points in his last seven games.

The Penguins stretched their lead to 3-0 on Malkin’s goal in the second. Malkin brought the puck through the Panthers zone and beat Thomas on the left side with a backhand shot at 7:23.

The Panthers had a goal disallowed on review in the second. Sean Bergenheim pushed the puck to the front of the crease and it was ruled that it was kicked in by Brad Boyes.

The Penguins scored two goals in 32 seconds in the first period.

During a power play, Neal passed from the left side to Kunitz in the slot. Thomas fell down and Kunitz found the open net at 10:45 to make it 1-0. It was the third goal in two games for Kunitz.

Jayson Megna shot from the slot and Vitale slid the rebound across the goal line at 11:17 for a 2-0 lead.

Notes: Earlier this season, Zatkoff made his first career start for Pittsburgh in Florida’s home-opener, a 6-3 loss on Oct. 11.  Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun, on injured reserve since Sept. 30 following surgery for a blood clot, spoke with reporters between periods and said he still hopes to eventually resume his career. Bergenheim played in his 400th NHL game. . Florida C Jesse Winchester returned after missing three games with a lower body injury.

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