Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist to lead Pittsburgh past the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 on Sunday night in the Penguins’ first game since NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin was injured.
Beau Bennett scored his first career goal on the power play to help Pittsburgh take over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division.
Matt Cooke and defenseman Paul Martin each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who have won five of six to tie Montreal for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Malkin is out indefinitely after slamming back-first into the end boards during Friday night’s win over Florida. Malkin, whose head snapped back when he hit the boards, was re-evaluated over the weekend for a concussion.
James Neal, Malkin’s regular linemate, played alongside Crosby and Chris Kunitz against the Lightning. Neal is tied for second in the league in goals.
Steven Stamkos had a three-point night for Tampa Bay, with his 13th goal and two assists. Stamkos and John Tavares of the New York Islanders are tied for the NHL lead in goals.
Cory Conacher, the NHL’s leading scorer among rookies, and defenseman Eric Brewer also scored for the Lightning, who are tied with Carolina for first place in the Southeast Division.
Stamkos, with 29 points, is one ahead of Crosby for the NHL scoring lead.
Marc-Andre Fleury, tied for first in the league with 10 wins, won his fifth straight game.
Anders Lindback started in goal for the Lightning and allowed three first-period goals on 10 shots before he was replaced at the start of the second by Mathieu Garon.
Crosby faced the Lightning for the first time since absorbing a check into the glass from Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman two years ago. It was a hit that contributed to the concussion problems that plagued the Penguins’ captain, forcing him to miss the final 41 games of the regular season, the Stanley Cup playoffs, and most of last season as symptoms lingered.
Crosby put the Penguins ahead early with two goals less than 8 minutes into the game.
The first one came just 1:16 in.