PITTSBURGH — Chris Kunitz scored his 19th goal, Sidney Crosby had two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a four-goal lead before beating the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Thursday night for their season-high sixth straight victory.
Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta sealed the Penguins’ win when he scored on a third-period penalty shot. Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter each scored for the second consecutive game, and defenseman Matt Niskanen also tallied for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 12 overall and a nine straight home game.
Crosby extended his season-best point streak to nine games. He leads the league with 51 points.
Jason Pominville netted his team-high 16th goal and Dany Heatley scored 3:13 into the third period for the Wild, turning a three-goal deficit into a 4-2 game.
The Wild had an opportunity to make it a one-goal game shortly after with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:46, but the Penguins killed both penalties.
Matta was awarded a penalty shot after he was hauled down by Jonas Brodin on a breakaway.
The Wild played their first game without starting goalie Josh Harding, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. It’s a move that allows Harding time to make adjustments to medication for his multiple sclerosis. Harding, expected to return Dec. 27 at Winnipeg, led the league in goals-against average and ranked second in save percentage entering Thursday.
The Penguins, playing for the fifth time in nine nights, were without star forward Evgeni Malkin for the third straight game. Malkin, third in the league in scoring, injured his left leg last Saturday at Detroit. The Penguins were also without five of their top six defenseman for the third straight game, four injured and Deryk Engelland serving the third game of a five-game suspension for his hit on Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader.
Flyers 5, Blue Jackets 4
PHILADELPHIA — Claude Giroux scored the tying and winning goals in the final minutes of the third period, rallying the Philadelphia Flyers past the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Giroux scored two of the Flyers’ five third-period goals as Philadelphia stormed back from a 3-0 hole.
Giroux’s 100th NHL goal was perhaps his most amazing, a backhanded and blind shot that beat Curtis McElhinney up high with 1:39 left. The Flyers captain had tied it with 4:39 left.
Jakub Voracek, Braydon Coburn, Erik Gustafsson also scored goals for the Flyers. Steve Mason got the win in his first game against his former team.
Sabres 4, Bruins 2
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Drew Stafford scored the winning goal in the third period, and Ryan Miller made 34 saves in the Buffalo Sabres’ victory over the Boston Bruins.
Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn both had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Myers also scored for Buffalo, which has won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 15.
Brad Marchand scored both Bruins goals, and Chad Johnson allowed four goals on 23 shots.
Stafford’s first goal in 18 games was of highlight-reel quality. He raced down the right side of the Boston zone and went around the net to score. It was just his third goal of the season.
Maple Leafs 2, Coyotes 1, SO
TORONTO — James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul scored in the shootout and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Phoenix Coyotes.
Troy Bodie scored in regulation and James Reimer made 34 saves for the win, just the Leafs’ second in their past seven games.
Martin Hanzal scored for the Coyotes and Mike Smith made 26 saves.
Unlike in their previous loss to the Florida Panthers, the Leafs didn’t spend so much time hemmed in their own zone, and when they did, Reimer was there to make timely saves.
Panthers 4, Senators 2
OTTAWA, Ontario — Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky scored in the final three minutes, and the Florida Panthers topped the Ottawa Senators for their fifth straight win.
Gilbert beat Craig Anderson with a one-timer off a pass from Tomas Fleischmann with 2:32 left and only two seconds remaining in a high-sticking penalty to Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
One minute later, with the Senators on a power play, Erik Karlsson fell in the Panthers’ zone, allowing Kopecky to break out on a 2-on-1 rush. He elected to shoot, and beat Anderson with 1:41 remaining.
Jimmy Hayes, in the first period, and Aleksander Barkov, in the second, also scored for the Panthers (14-17-50), who got 32 saves from Scott Clemmensen.
Chris Neil and Jason Spezza scored for the Senators (14-17-6), who have lost two straight and three of four.
Lightning 4, Predators 2
TAMPA, Fla. — Goaltender Anders Lindback won in his first game against his former team, Alex Killorn had a goal and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Nashville Predators.
The Lightning also got goals from Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Richard Panik.
Lindback stopped six shots, including a pair of quality chances by David Legwand, during a two-minute stretch late in the first period. Tampa Bay acquired Lindback in a trade with Nashville on June 15, 2012.
Craig Smith had two goals for the Predators.
Killorn put the Lightning up 1-0 when he beat Carter Hutton from the right circle 2:25 into the game. Defenseman Victor Hedman and Jean-Philippe Cote assisted on the goal.
Hedman was back in the lineup after missing the previous six games because of a lower-body injury. Cote, recalled Wednesday from Syracuse of the AHL, got his first career point playing in his first NHL game since an eight-game stint with Montreal during the 2005-06 season.
St. Louis made it 2-0 during a power play at 19:06 of the first. Tampa Bay had scored with the man advantage in just four of its previous 22 games.
Red Wings 3, Flames 2, OT
DETROIT — Daniel Alfredsson scored two goals, including a power-play score at 1:03 of overtime and the Detroit Red Wings earned a win over the Calgary Flames.
The win snapped Detroit’s six-game winless streak (0-4-2) and five-game home losing streak.
Alfredsson added an assist and Joakim Andersson also scored for Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk had three assists, Niklas Kronwall two assists Jonas Gustavsson made 20 saves.
Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano scored for Calgary. Mike Cammalleri had two assists and Karri Ramo stopped 35 shots.
Alfredsson’s winner came on a one-time slap shot from the inside edge of the left circle for his ninth goal. He also got his 700th assist earlier in the game.