PITTSBURGH (AP)Evgeni Malkin enjoyed a fitting end to a multigame celebration of a significant career milestone.
Malkin scored the deciding goal in the shootout, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.
Malkin, who was recognized in Pittsburgh for playing his 1,000th NHL game on Sunday, flipped a backhander over Dan Vlader’s glove. After Malkin scored, he threw his stick into the crowd and celebrated with his teammates.
”It was perfect,” captain Sidney Crosby said. ”You wouldn’t want anyone else with the opportunity to win the game. The whole night was awesome.”
Crosby and Rickard Rakell also scored in the tiebreaker for the Penguins, who improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games overall. Jan Rutta scored in regulation, and Tristan Jarry made 33 saves for his 100th NHL win.
”(Malkin) plays his best when the stakes are high,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ”I think that’s where players build their legacies. He’s been on the big stage an awful lot in his career.”
Dillon Dube scored in the second period for the Flames, who had won two in a row. Calgary has four wins in its last six games overall following a seven-game losing streak.
Vladar, making his fourth start of the season, and first since Nov. 10, stopped 38 shots.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter said it was quite a night for Malkin.
”He’s the guy that ends up winning it for them. Good for him,” Sutter said.
Rutta opened the scoring at 2:09 when he beat Vladar with a blocker-side wrist shot from between the circles.
Pittsburgh appeared to take a 2-0 lead on a Bryan Rust goal. But it was waved off because of an offsides call following a coach’s challenge.
Calgary then tied it at 1 at 8:37 of the second when Dube redirected a Chris Tanev shot behind Jarry.
The Penguins celebrated Malkin in his first home game after appearing in his 1,000th career regular-season game on Sunday at Chicago.
Malkin’s teammates all wore his No. 71 jersey during warmups. Malkin’s wife, Anna, and 6-year-old son, Nikita, joined him on the ice during a pregame ceremony. He received personal gifts commemorating his 1,000th career game, including a silver hockey stick.
”Thank you to my teammates and the Pittsburgh Penguins organization,” Malkin said. ”It’s an amazing life for me and my family. The last three days I was crying every day because the team gave me so many surprises. They gave me a special night and special gifts before the game. I don’t have any words. It was just amazing.”
Calgary played the fourth game of a season-long six-game road trip.
The Flames lost the first game of the trip against Tampa Bay, but rebounded with wins against Florida and Philadelphia prior to Wednesday’s shootout loss against the Penguins. Calgary closes the trip with games at Washington and Carolina.
The Flames have at least a point in their last seven games at PPG Paints Arena, dating to the 2015-16 season.
Flames: Continue a six-game road trip Friday at Philadelphia.
Penguins: Visit Washington on Friday.
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