Carl Hagelin, Penguins top Jets
Pittsburgh also welcomes Evgeni Malkin back from injury
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.
Defenceman 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' centre 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.
"We came out and we battled hard," Hutchinson said. "We just kind of kept coming and kind of took it to them for a little bit. The puck just wasn't going in the net."
Wilson tipped Derrick Pouliot's point shot behind Hutchinson for his fourth goal in five games, giving the Penguins a two-goal lead 5:19 into the third period. Hagelin made it a 4-1 game later in the period on a one-timer from Phil Kessel. It was his second of the game and third with Pittsburgh since he was acquired Jan. 16 from Anaheim.
"I think it was important for us to get that 3-1 goal," Hagelin said. "It was key and it definitely kind of put them away."
Pittsburgh went 5-4-1 without its leading scorer Malkin. When he was injured, he was tied for ninth in league scoring, second in power-play points and tied for seventh in goals. Pittsburgh struggled on the power play without him, going 1-for-24. The Penguins were eighth in the league, converting at a 20 per cent success rate with Malkin in the lineup.
"[Malkin], I thought was really strong," Sullivan said. "I think his conditioning will only get better as he gets his timing back and gets back into game mode."