Evgeni Malkin netted a goal and added an assist and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 27 shots he faced to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-0 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers Tuesday night in a battle of conference heavyweights at CONSOL Energy Center.
After a scoreless first period, Malkin scored what would eventually become the game-winning goal early in the middle frame. The NHL's leading scorer skated in on a breakaway on Henrik Lundqvist and beat the sprawling Rangers' goaltender with a backhander high to the glove side for his 33rd goal of the season at the 1:05 mark.
Malkin, who has recorded points in eight of his last nine games (six goals, 14 points during that stretch), now had 73 points in 53 games, and leads Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers, who also had a goal and an assist tonight. by three points in the League's scoring race.
Pittsburgh would add another goal midway through the second for some insurance. With New York's Marc Staal in the sin bin for tripping, Malkin dished to Steve Sullivan straight away at the point. The 37-year-old diminutive winger's one-time power play blast found its way through traffic and Lundqvist for his 11th goal of the year, and his first in the last 10 games, to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 11:14.
By picking up an assist on the Sullivan goal, Malkin's 40th helper of the season was also the 300th in 405 career games.
But the big story of the night was Fleury, who registered his third shutout of the year to improve his season record to 31-14-3. Two of his best saves were big glove stops on New York's Artem Anisimov after the Ranger split Pittsburgh defenders Kris Letang and Deryk Engelland before being thwarted by Fleury, and Derek Stepan, whose snap shot from the right hash mark that was ticketed for the top corner before the Pens' netminder flashed leather to rob him.
It was also the 22nd shutout of Fleury's career, tying the all-time Pittsburgh record held by Tom Barrasso.
The Pens are 13-4-1 in their last 18 games to get themselves right in the thick of the Atlantic Division and conference races, and kept pace with Philadelphia to remain tied in the standings with the Flyers at 73 points.
The loss snapped a personal four-game winning streak for Lundqvist, who saw his record fall to 28-12-4. "King Henrik" has won eight of his last 10 decisions.
Even though the Rangers are just 1-2-0 in their last three games, they are still 9-3-1 in their last 13 contests. New York continues to lead the East, holding a seven point cushion over the New Jersey Devils.