ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Ben Lovejoy’s emotion-filled week ended with a satisfying victory by his new team against the club that traded him back to his old stomping grounds four days earlier.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins also got goals from Evgeni Malkin, Blake Comeau and Sidney Crosby in a 5-2 victory over the league-leading Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
The game actually was a homecoming for three ex-Ducks, including Chris Kunitz and Daniel Winnik. Lovejoy, traded on Monday for Simon Despres, couldn’t keep his voice from cracking several times while answering postgame questions.
“That was awesome. The boys really rallied around me,” said the seven-year veteran defenseman, who spent his first four-plus seasons in the Steel City before he was traded to Anaheim in February 2013.
“Anaheim was such a special place for me,” Lovejoy said. “This morning I took an Uber to the rink from my old house in Newport (Beach), and I got a little emotional … the driver was a bit weirded out. But I felt like I got it all out then, and I was able to come in here with so much energy and adrenaline.
Thomas Greiss made 27 saves, improving to 8-3-3 and helping the Penguins win for the fifth time in six games. They lost 3-1 at Columbus in the opener of a four-game road trip.
“Nobody was happy about our game against Colorado, so everybody wanted to show each other how good we can play,” Hornqvist said. “We came out of the gates good, and I think we had the momentum almost the whole game.
“Our second period was really good and we got a big win with a big team effort. We know we can beat anyone. We just have to get hot.”
Crosby scored into an empty net with 10.3 seconds remaining. The Penguins are 6-0 when he and Malkin both have goals.
Tomas Fleischmann and Corey Perry scored third-period goals for the Ducks, who had won seven of their previous eight games. Frederik Andersen stopped 16 shots in his first career start against Pittsburgh, and his second start after missing three weeks because of a neck injury.
The Penguins opened the scoring midway in the second period as rookie Derrick Pouliot carried the puck across the blue line and slid it to Comeau for a 50-foot slap shot that whizzed past Andersen’s glove. Hornqvist made it 2-0, playing the puck off the end boards and banking it in off Andersen from the right of the net.
“I know the goalie can’t see that’s behind him, so he probably figured I was going to pass,” Hornqvist said. “So he moved and opened up a little spot. I got lucky on that one, but if you don’t shoot, you don’t score.”
Hornqvist connected again 63 seconds before intermission, redirecting Ian Cole’s slap shot from the right point past Andersen just 4 seconds after the Ducks killed off a slashing penalty against Despres. The goal was Hornqvist’s 21st this season and 10th in 21 career games against Anaheim.
“They moved the puck and had us running around in our zone,” Perry said. “They hemmed our line in a couple of times, especially in the first few shifts of the game.”
Malkin made it 4-0 early in the third period with his 28th goal, a short wrist shot that caromed off Andersen and trickled across the goal line.
“Everybody knows how good that team is, and we were able to handle them pretty handily tonight,” Lovejoy said. “As a former Duck, I know that happens to that team sometimes. We were able to come out and get off to a good start.”
NOTES: The Ducks and Penguins are 1-2 in NHL regular-season wins since the start of the 2012-13 campaign with 126 and 124, respectively. … About 6 1-2 minutes in, Andersen went way out of his net to play the puck and shot it off the boards. He had to scramble back to the crease to prevent it from going in. … The Penguins beat the Ducks 6-4 at Pittsburgh in the season opener for both clubs, with Crosby’s two goals offsetting Perry’s hat trick. Anaheim won its next seven. … This was the ninth head-to-head showdown between Crosby and Perry, both of whom have been league MVP and have scored 50 goals in a season. Crosby has six goals and six assists in those games, Perry 10 goals and three assists - and the Penguins own a 7-2 advantage. … Kunitz played his 400th regular-season game with the Penguins, who acquired him from the Ducks in February 2009. … Kunitz, who won Stanley Cups with Anaheim in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2009, has no goals in six career games against the Ducks - the only NHL team he has never scored against.
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