PITTSBURGH – When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma shuffled the lines in search of a spark for his slumping offense, putting Evgeni Malkin and rookie Brian Gibbons on the ice together wasn’t what he had in mind.
Still, he’ll take it.
Gibbons converted a slick backhand pass from Malkin for his first NHL goal at 3:56 of the third period, starting a late burst as the Penguins beat the weary Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday night.
Called up from the minors 12 hours before the opening faceoff, the 25-year-old Gibbons was thrown immediately onto Pittsburgh’s third line. He ended up on the ice with Malkin after the Penguins were caught in the middle of a shift change.
While watching Malkin do a full lap through the Anaheim zone, Gibbons sprinted to the slot, took the pass and sent a shot over Viktor Fasth’s right shoulder to break a scoreless tie.
“I was just trying to get to the net and bang home a rebound or something,” Gibbons said. “Somehow it ended up right on my stick.”
Gibbons earned his first NHL assist 62 seconds later when Brandon Sutter deflected Olli Maatta’s shot from the point past Fasth.
Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf quickly pulled the Ducks within one, but Sidney Crosby’s 10th goal of the season capped a flurry in which the Penguins scored three times in just over four minutes.
The outburst was a welcome development for a team that for all its considerable offensive talent has struggled to score recently. Pittsburgh came in riding a 1-4 slump, scoring just one goal in each of the four losses.
“It was actually a good game for us,” Bylsma said. “We wanted to be in that tight game and stayed the course and came through with a couple of big goals.”
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots for Pittsburgh as the Penguins leapfrogged Washington to move back into first in the Metropolitan Division. The teams will meet in the nation’s capital on Wednesday.
Getzlaf’s fifth goal in four games provided all of the offense for the Pacific Divison-leading Ducks, who earned just one point during a four-game East Coast road trip. Fasth made 24 saves but struggled in the final 20 minutes.
“I’m not seeing any secondary scoring from anybody,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When you don’t have four lines contributing scoring it’s tough to win. I don’t care how good the guys are, it’s tough to win.”
The Ducks totaled just six goals in four games during a swing through Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh.
Bruins 4, Hurricanes 1
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg had a goal and an assist each in the first period as Boston topped the hosts.
Johnny Boychuk scored midway through the third period, and Milan Lucic added an empty-net goal for the Bruins, who have 11 points in their last seven games (5-1-1).
Boston killed four Carolina power plays, including 63 seconds when the Bruins were down two skaters. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal in 32 short-handed situations since giving up goals on five consecutive power plays in October.
Flames 5, Jets 4 (SO)
In Winnipeg, Sean Monahan scored the winning goal in the eighth round of a shootout as Calgary ended its six-game losing streak with a victory over the Jets.
Jiri Hudler had given the Flames a 4-3 lead with 3:26 remaining in regulation, but the Jets tied it on Bryan Little’s tally with six seconds left.