- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - NHL scoring-leader Evgeni Malkin tied a career-high with five points to surpass 100 for the second consecutive season and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Atlanta Thrashers 6-2 Tuesday night.

Malkin, who missed practice Monday due to illness, had two goals and three assists to give him 102 points this season. He extended his lead in the scoring race over teammate Sidney Crosby to 10 points.

Sergei Gonchar had a goal and three assists and Kris Letang and Crosby had two assists each for Pittsburgh in a game matching the two hottest teams in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta entered with a franchise-record six-game winning streak, and the Penguins improved to 11-1-3 under interim coach Dan Bylsma.

Bryan Little and Eric Boulton scored for Atlanta, which was playing without star wing Ilya Kovalchuk for the third straight game due to an unspecified upper body injury.

Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal and Mark Eaton also scored for the Penguins, who are on a 9-0-2 run and are 9-1-1 in their past 11 at home.

Malkins first goal came during a 4-on-4 in the second when he spun a reverse backhand into the net from right in front of Atlanta goalie Johan Hedberg while being shoved to the ice by Garnet Exelby.

Malkins 32nd came only 43 seconds later, on a one-timed slap shot from the right circle and made it 5-1.

The primary assists on both goals went to Gonchar, who scored his fifth power play goal _ and sixth overall _ in 15 games this season in the first and also assisted on Eatons third-period goal.

Malkin was awarded a penalty shot when he was pulled down during a breakaway with 2:56 to play in the game, but his forehand shot missed high to the left.

Atlanta took the lead 34 seconds into the game on Littles 30th.

Malkin assisted on power-play goals by Gonchar and Kunitz during the final 11 minutes of the first. His final assist came on Eatons goal with 12:13 left in the contest.

Malkin had 106 points last season to finish second in the league.

This is the fourth consecutive season the Penguins have had a player score at least 100 points. Crosby had 102 in 2005-06 and won the scoring title with 120 the following season.

Notes:@ The Penguins are 2-0-1 on a franchise record eight-game homestand. Kunitzs goal was his third in two games and sixth in 10 games with Pittsburgh. Staals goal was his 20th, giving the Penguins five 20-goal scorers in their lineup The Penguins have killed 32 of the past 34 power plays against them, including all seven Tuesday. Atlanta D Zach Bogosian did not play in third period due to an unspecified injury.

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