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Malkin, Staal fuel another comeback

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Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008

Nearly left blue on a night they brought that color back, the Penguins once again rallied in the third period to extend their season-best winning streak to six games.

Center Jordan Staal scored twice over the final 20 minutes -- his sixth and seventh goals in six games -- and the Penguins downed the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, at Mellon Arena on Saturday.

It was the Penguins' sixth victory when trailing after the second period -- matching their total from last season.

"It's hard work," Staal said. "This team just never seems to give up."

The Penguins are 11-4-2 with 24 points, continuing their best start since the 1995-96 season.

A franchise-record 75th consecutive sellout enjoyed a blast from the past last night as the Penguins sported alternate uniforms with their original colors: light blue, dark blue and white.

Fans also probably didn't mind watching center Evgeni Malkin's continued stalking of a record owned by franchise icon and current majority co-owner Mario Lemieux.

Malkin scored his seventh goal in the second period last night. He also assisted on three of the Penguins' four third-period goals.

His point streak stands at 13 games, an NHL-best mark this season. Malkin, who padded his point total to 30 points, has recorded an assist in each of those games.

Lemieux's franchise record of consecutive games with an assist is 14. Malkin will have a chance to match at home Tuesday against Minnesota.

"My teammates are playing good," said Malkin, who shrugged off comparisons to Lemieux, the Penguins' all-time leading scorer.

Coach Michel Therrien agreed that Malkin knows how good he is.

"He's got a lot of confidence," Therrien said.

It is warranted.

Malkin, who finished second in the NHL with 106 points last season, needed 26 games to total 30 points last year.

He is on pace for 144 points this season, which would rate the most for a Penguin since 1995-96, a season in which Lemieux (161) and Jaromir Jagr (149) finished Nos. 1 and 2 in the league scoring race.

Left wing Ruslan Fedotenko and rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski also scored for the Penguins last night.

Goligoski's fourth goal tied the score, 2-2, at 11:43. It was his second power-play point; he had recorded only one power-play point in 10 previous games.

The Penguins went 2-for-6 with the advantage -- unexpected success against a Sabres squad that entered the game having allowed only one power-play goal and paced the NHL with a 96.9 percent penalty-kill rate on the road.

The Penguins were 5-for-36 on the power play over their past nine games.

Clearly they benefitted from a post morning-skate meeting that Therrien said focused on simplifying the power-play attack.

"We were struggling, myself included; it was good to score a couple of goals," Goligoski said. "We were just moving (the puck) around well."

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots -- a stout rebound from a poor performance against Philadelphia on Thursday. He was pulled from that game after the second period, in which he allowed four goals.

Fleury made two saves in the first period -- one with his left leg pad, the other his glove hand -- to prevent Buffalo from extending a 1-0 lead. Each save came with the Penguins shorthanded.

"He was good, really sharp," Therrien said.

Additional Information:

Trib's 3 Stars

1. C Jordan Staal, Penguins

2 goals

· Has scored seven goals in six games.

2. C Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

4 points

· Extended his point streak to 13 games

3. G Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins

21 saves

· Rebounded strong from a poor performance Thursday.




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