Penguins score 5 unanswered, rout Red Wings

Posted at 10:19 PM, Dec 31, 2015
DETROIT (AP) -- When the Pittsburgh Penguins needed more offense, they looked to their stars to provide it.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored goals 34 seconds apart in the third period to help lift the Penguins to a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night.
"We've been on the other side of these a couple of times," Crosby said. "So to bounce back and get some points to end the year is great."
The Penguins have a five-game unbeaten streak at Joe Louis Arena, going 3-0-2 in that span.
Crosby got a nice pass right in front of the net from David Perron and beat Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek stick-side at 7:48 of the third, snapping a 2-2 tie.
Crosby has three goals and five assists in his last six games.
Malkin quickly made it a two-goal lead, scoring his 18th of the season at 8:22.
Justin Abdelkader kicked off the scoring, collecting a rebound of Dylan Larkin's wraparound attempt and beating Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff at 6:47 of the first period. Abdelkader is tied for second on the Wings with Gustav Nyquist with 12 goals. Larkin has 13.
From nearly the same spot at the left side of the net, Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith rebounded Gustav Nyquist's shot to make it 2-0 at 12:15.
The Penguins responded in the second period with two power-play goals.
"We had to keep our heads up, that's what we talked about at the end of the first period," Kris Letang said.
Mrazek made the initial save on Patric Hornqvist's shot but the puck landed in the crease and Mrazek's right skate pushed it into the net 46 seconds into the period.
At 11:49 of the second, Letang got the Penguins' second power-play goal, beating Mrazek with a shot from the right circle.
It was Letang's first goal since Oct. 13 against Montreal, snapping a 24-game drought.
"When he is in our lineup and he plays the way that he did tonight, it shows the kind of impact he can have on our team," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
It's the first time this season that the Penguins have scored two power-play goals on the road.
While the Penguins scored on two of three power-play chances, the Wings failed on all three of their attempts.
"I don't think it should just be talk about the power play," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's specialty teams. We've given up too many goals when we're on the penalty kill. Our specialty teams combined have to be better."
Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said turnovers continue to be a problem in the Wings' three-game losing streak.
"Still too many turnovers tonight again," Zetterberg said. "It will cost you when you play against these kind of players. I think it's just wanting to do too much."
Letang scored an empty-net goal with 1:40 remaining in the game and had an assist on the Penguins' first goal.
"The way we responded in the second and third period was exciting because it proves that we can play the right way," Sullivan said.
NOTES: Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson returned to the lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury. ... Forward Darren Helm played in his 400th career game. ... Tomas Jurco played just five shifts for 4:09 in the first period, leaving with an upper-body injury. Blashill did not have an update on Jurco's status after the game. ... Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury missed his eighth game with a concussion. ... The Penguins sent defenseman Adam Clendening to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on a conditioning assignment.