PITTSBURGH (AP) – Evgeni Malkin’s return to the lineup brought out the best in linemate Carl Hagelin.
Hagelin scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins welcomed Malkin back from injury with a 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
“He’s obviously one of the best players in the league, so he’s going to open up a lot of room,” Hagelin said. “When he’s on his game, the other team has to pay so much attention to him.”
That was good news for Hagelin. He scored his sixth and seventh of the season for Pittsburgh and Scott Wilson added a third-period goal.
Defenseman Kris Letang scored his 10th of the season for the Penguins, who had Malkin back in the lineup after the 2012 NHL MVP missed 10 games with a lower-body injury. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for his 25th win.
“I thought overall the game (Malkin’s) line played was pretty solid,” Penguins’ coach Mike Sullivan said. “They’re a threat every time they’re on the ice and I think when those three guys play together their speed is evident.”
The Penguins won their 15th straight home game against Winnipeg, the NHL’s second-longest streak against any opponent. The Jets haven’t won in Pittsburgh since Dec. 27, 2006, when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
Blake Wheeler scored his 18th of the season for the Jets, who have lost six of their last eight games.
Penguins’ center Nick Bonino also returned for the first time since Jan. 12 after missing 17 games with a hand injury.
Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves for Winnipeg.