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game recap

Penguins 4, Thrashers 3, OT

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM

Associated Press

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Penguins 4, Thrashers 3, OT
Atlanta Thrashers 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 4

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't need a team meeting or an 8:30 a.m. practice to refocus them following a bad loss. Maybe they needed Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar on the ice again.

Jordan Leopold scored his first goal for Pittsburgh at 3:50 of overtime after Atlanta failed three times to hold leads, and the Penguins bounced back from one of their worst losses all season to beat the Thrashers 4-3 Saturday.

Malkin had a goal and an assist after sitting out five consecutive games and seven of eight with a bruised right foot. Gonchar, out for four games with strep throat, tied it on a power play with 74 seconds left in regulation and had an assist.

Sidney Crosby had three assists as the Penguins followed up a dismally played 2-0 loss at home to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Coach Dan Bylsma held a demanding and unscheduled practice 10 1/2 hours following his team's fourth loss in six games and a postgame meeting, but the Penguins appeared to respond more to the return of Malkin and Sergei Gonchar than they did to any punitive measures.

"It's great to have them back," Crosby said. "Obviously for them to miss some time like they did and come back and play the way they did, and make an impact right away, that's huge for us."

Pittsburgh moved ahead of Buffalo and into third place in the Eastern Conference as the Sabres lost to Montreal 3-0. The Penguins and Atlantic Division leader New Jersey have 97 points apiece, but the Devils - who beat Carolina 4-0 - own the tiebreaker.

"We didn't have our best game, no, but we made some progress and we got a couple of big guys back in the lineup," Leopold said.

Leopold won it with his eighth goal overall and first since Jan. 31 with Florida, cutting down the right-wing boards before spinning to avoid defenseman Mark Popovic and putting a bad-angle shot past goalie Johan Hedberg.

"I was tired at the end of the shift and actually wanted to get off, and I threw it on the net and I think I surprised them," Leopold said.

No better way to get off the ice than that.

The Thrashers, desperately trying to stay in the race for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, took leads on goals by Maxim Afinogenov, Tim Stapleton and Rich Peverley, but the Penguins answered each time. Tyler Kennedy also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves.

Atlanta is a point out of eighth place in the conference with three games remaining: against conference-leading Washington, New Jersey and Pittsburgh. The Thrashers have lost their last eight against the Penguins.

"We had two points and we found a way to squander that," Atlanta defenseman Ron Hainsey said.

Thrashers coach John Anderson didn't like the holding call on Jim Slater that led to Gonchar's 11th goal, on a one-timer from above the circles after Malkin drew multiple defenders to him.

"I feel bad for the guys that played their hearts out. A call like that at the end of the game, you've got to be kidding me," Anderson said.

Atlanta hadn't allowed a power-play goal in nine games until Malkin and Gonchar scored as Pittsburgh went 2 for 5 with the man advantage. Perhaps the Thrashers shouldn't have gotten Malkin upset.

He was visibly angry after getting his No. 71 jersey yanked over his head during a scrap involving multiple players along the boards near the midpoint of the second period, and he yelled over his shoulder toward at least one player as he went to the bench. Not long after, Malkin tied it at 1 on a power play by scoring his 25th goal.

"It was a game you expect when Geno is on his game and dominating play," Bylsma said.

NOTES: Leopold was traded by Florida on March 1. He hadn't scored in 15 games with Pittsburgh. ... Crosby won the Penguins' MVP award, and F Jordan Staal won the players' player award for his season-long consistency. ... Atlanta rookie Niclas Bergfors has four goals and four assists in five games against Pittsburgh. ... Malkin has six goals and 12 assists in eight games against Atlanta. ... Atlanta played without former Penguins F Colby Armstrong, who served the first game of a two-game suspension.

scoring summary
1st Period
19:12
ATL
Maxim Afinogenov (24) ASST: Niclas Bergfors (23), Nik Antropov (43)
1 - 0 ATL
2nd Period
12:05
PIT
PPG - Evgeni Malkin (25) ASST: Alex Goligoski (25), Sidney Crosby (48)
1 - 1 Tie
17:23
ATL
PPG - Tim Stapleton (2) ASST: Johnny Oduya (10), Tobias Enstrom (44)
2 - 1 ATL
3rd Period
03:27
PIT
Tyler Kennedy (12) ASST: Sergei Gonchar (35), Sidney Crosby (49)
2 - 2 Tie
04:31
ATL
Rich Peverley (22) ASST: Clarke MacArthur (18), Evander Kane (12)
3 - 2 ATL
18:46
PIT
PPG - Sergei Gonchar (11) ASST: Evgeni Malkin (47), Alex Goligoski (26)
3 - 3 Tie
OT Period
02:50
PIT
Jordan Leopold (8) ASST: Sidney Crosby (50)
4 - 3 PIT
penalty summary
1st Period
04:13
ATL
Evander Kane  Hi stick - double minor against  Sergei Gonchar
05:06
PIT
Bill Guerin  Hi-sticking against  Chris Chelios
18:25
PIT
Bill Guerin  Fighting (maj) against  Jim Slater
18:25
ATL
Jim Slater  Fighting (maj) against  Bill Guerin
2nd Period
07:05
PIT
Jordan Leopold  Hooking against  Tim Stapleton
11:23
ATL
Chris Thorburn  Interference against  Brooks Orpik
12:17
ATL
Tobias Enstrom  Holding the stick against  Jordan Staal
13:26
PIT
Marc-Andre Fleury  Tripping against  Jim Slater
15:25
PIT
Matt Cooke  Tripping against  Johnny Oduya
3rd Period
11:58
ATL
Zach Bogosian  Interference against  Ruslan Fedotenko
11:58
PIT
Ruslan Fedotenko  Hi-sticking against  Zach Bogosian
17:33
ATL
Jim Slater  Holding against  Jordan Leopold
OT Period
NONE
goalie stats
Johan Hedberg
SA: 35TOI: 62:40
Saves: 31EV: 28 - 30
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 4
SV%: .886SH: 1 - 1
Marc-Andre Fleury
SA: 24TOI: 62:29
Saves: 21EV: 12 - 14
PIM: 2PP: 9 - 10
SV%: .875SH: 0 - 0