PITTSBURGH (AP) — Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist during a five-goal third-period surge and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 on Saturday night.
Malkin tied Alexander Mogilny for third-most goals in NHL history among Russian-born players. Malkin, who scored his 473rd career goal, trails only Sergei Fedorov (483) and Alex Ovechkin (822).
Malkin and the Penguins admittedly aren’t happy after their run of 16 consecutive playoff appearances ended last spring.
“I want to win, I want to play hard,” Malkin said. “We don’t like to miss the playoffs. These points are the same two points in March or February.”
Bryan Rust scored twice, including a late empty-net goal, while Reilly Smith and Jake Guentzel also scored during Pittsburgh’s big third-period comeback, as the Penguins won one night after shutting out Washington on the road.
Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 34 shots for Pittsburgh.
Nedeljkovic, who spent time with Detroit last season, made his first start for the Penguins. He’s played parts of six NHL seasons with Carolina and Detroit and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie, in 2020-21.
“It builds confidence and it feels good,” Nedeljkovic said. “I didn’t get many looks during the preseason, so it was good to get out there and have a good showing.”
Matt Coronato’s first NHL goal was scored on the power play for Calgary. Jonathan Huberdeau scored his first of the season for the Flames, who opened a five-game road trip.
Jacob Markstrom made 24 saves for the Flames.
“The hard part is we had a good first two periods,” said Flames head coach Ryan Huska. “You have to recognize the work ethic was there for the most part.”
Malkin took a drop pass from Smith and snuck in a wrist shot at 14:14 of the third period for his milestone goal. He has six points in his first three games.
“There’s lots of motivation,” Malkin said. “I don’t want to step on the ice and do nothing and just skate around.”
Rust tied the game at 1 just 18 seconds into the third period.
Smith gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead just 23 seconds later, the second-fastest two goals to start a period in franchise history. Smith, an offseason acquisition who won the Stanley Cup with Vegas last season, scored his second goal in as many games. He took a pass from Malkin and beat Markstrom with a one-timer from between the circles.
“We were hoping (Smith and Malkin) were going to develop some chemistry and that’s one of the reasons why we put them together from the first day,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Guentzel put Pittsburgh in front 3-1 at 5:50 of the third period. Guetnzel, who has points in three straight games, is two goals away from 200 in his career.
Coronato opened the scoring at 18:22 of the second period with a power-play goal. The No. 13 overall pick in 2021 took a slot pass from Elias Lindholm and fired a one-timer behind Nedeljkovic from the bottom of the circle.
“It’s hard to think about it, the way we came out and played in the third,” Coronato said. “It was a great play by (Lindholm) and it was good to get it.”
Flames D Noah Hanifin became the 10th-youngest defenseman in NHL history to skate in 600 games on Saturday. Hanifin, who has 49 goals and 240 points, is the first player from the 2015 draft class to reach that mark.
The former No. 5 overall picked played his first 239 games in Carolina before a trade to Calgary ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Flames: Continue a five-game road trip Monday at Washington.
Penguins: Visit Detroit on Wednesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL