[Photo Credit: Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review]
Many people believed Evgeni Malkin would be a bit rusty after returning from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss nine games. Those people were wrong.
Malkin scored twice in his return to help the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Winnipeg Jets, 6-5, on Sunday afternoon at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins trailed 5-4 after two periods, but with 11:31 left in the game Malkin buried a rebound off of a shot from James Neal to tie the game 5-5.
Malkin added an assist and finished the game with three points, a plus-3 rating and over 20 minutes of time on ice. Neal also finished the game with three points.
Just over four minutes after Malkin tied the game, Matt Niskanen would bury a one-timer from defensive partner Olli Maatta for what would end up being the game-winning goal.
The Penguins struggled defensively through two periods, but were able to right the ship in the third to hold on for their 12th consecutive victory at home.
After an early goal from the Jets, it appeared the Penguins would be able to regroup after 20 minutes down by just a goal, but Matt Scheifele's goal with only four seconds left in the period turned it into a 2-0 game.
Even after suffering the late goal, the Penguins came out flying in the second period and scored three goals in the first five minutes of the period to take a 3-2 lead.
Blake Wheeler would tie the game 3-3 just a few moments later, but a goal by Jussi Jokinen put the Penguins up once again with just over eight minutes remaining in the middle frame.
Once again, sloppy defense by the Pens allowed Evander Kane to score twice in the final 2:29 of the second to cap off a wild, seven-goal period and put the Jets up by one goal after 40 minutes.
Just one day removed from a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Jets came out looking for a huge win, but the Penguins were simply too difficult to shut down offensively.
The Penguins have now combined for 19 goals in their last four home games.
All-Star defenseman Kris Letang made his return to the lineup as well on Sunday. He finished with an assist and 24:31 time on ice.
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