PITTSBURGH – It was an emotional night for the Pittsburgh Penguins and their beloved former goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury was back in the city where he started his NHL career and spent more than a decade, helping to backstop the Penguins to multiple championships. The Penguins wanted to honor their old friend — and they did — but they also wanted to win.
Third-period goals by Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel ruined Fleury’s homecoming as the Penguins defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 on Tuesday.
“I think it was an important game, and obviously with (Fleury) coming in it added a lot of emotion,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Once you get out there, you’re trying to win a game and he’s trying to do the same thing.”
Fleury, who won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins — including the last two seasons — returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since Vegas selected him in the expansion draft last summer. Fleury, who stopped 33 shots, beat his former teammates in December in Las Vegas.
“The game was (in Pittsburgh), so it was different,” Fleury said. “It was very weird, but it was a game I’ll remember forever.”
In the first meeting between the teams in Pittsburgh, Malkin gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead with his 30th of the season at 3:09 of the third period. Malkin, who scored in his fifth straight game, became the fifth player in team history to score 30 goals six times.
Kessel extended the lead to 5-2 a little more than three minutes later on a one-touch, backdoor feed from Malkin.
Jake Guentzel, Ryan Reaves and Ian Cole also scored for Pittsburgh, which won for the fifth time in six games.
Matt Murray, Fleury’s former understudy in Pittsburgh, made 21 saves to top his mentor.
William Karlsson scored his 28th of the season on a power play for the Golden Knights. James Neal, who spent four seasons in Pittsburgh, got his 23rd.
Ryan Carpenter and Jonathan Marchessault scored in the third period for Vegas, which nearly rallied from a three-goal deficit. The Western Conference leaders have 20 wins in their last 28 games.
Fleury, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL draft, spent 13 seasons in Pittsburgh and set team records for games and minutes played, wins and shutouts.
Murray stepped in when Fleury went down on the eve of the 2016 playoffs. He helped the Penguins to the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup and eventually grabbed the No. 1 job. Fleury waived his no-movement clause before the trade deadline last spring so the Penguins could protect Murray in the expansion draft.
Bruins 3, Red Wings 2
In Detroit, Sean Kuraly and David Krejci scored in the second period, and surging Boston rallied for a victory over the Red Wings.
Ducks 4, Sabres 3 (OT)
In Buffalo, Adam Henrique scored 1:36 into overtime and Anaheim snapped a three-game skid.
Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 2
In Columbus, Nicklas Backstrom scored the winning goal with 43 seconds left, Braden Holtby made 37 saves and Washington beat the Blue Jackets.
Flyers 2, Hurricanes 1 (OT)
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Jordan Weal scored with 3.1 seconds left in overtime and Philadelphia topped the Hurricanes.
Panthers 3, Canucks 1
In Sunrise, Florida, Aleksander Barkov scored twice, including the go-ahead goal late in the second period, to lead the Canucks past Vancouver.
Senators 5, Devils 3
In Ottawa, Matt Duchene had a goal and two assists as the undermanned Senators beat New Jersey.
Wild 6 Blues 2
In St. Louis, Jason Zucker tied a career high with his 22nd goal and Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves in Minnesota’s win over St. Louis.
Flames 3, Blackhawks 2
In Chicago, Michael Stone scored with 3:30 left and Calgary edged the Blackhawks for the second straight game.
Jets 4, Coyotes 3
In Winnipeg, Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and an assist as the Jets defeated Arizona, becoming the second NHL team to reach 20 home wins this season.
Avalanche 3, Sharks 1
In Denver, Gabriel Bourque and Tyson Jost scored 2:14 apart in the second period, Jonathan Bernier stopped 39 shots and Colorado beat San Jose.