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Crosby-less Penguins rally for 5-3 win over Winnipeg

PITTSBURGH (AP) — David Perron and Brandon Sutter scored power-play goals less than 4 minutes apart in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied for a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.

Nick Spaling, Steve Downie and Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins. Kris Letang had a career-high five assists as Pittsburgh ended a four-game losing streak despite playing without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Thomas Greiss stopped 19 shots.

Adam Lowry, Jacob Trouba and Chris Thorburn scored for the Jets, who saw their five-game winning streak snapped when they couldn’t protect a third-period lead. Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves but was sloppy in the third period.

Lowry gave Winnipeg the lead 59 seconds into the third before Perron and Sutter delivered on Pittsburgh’s patchwork power play.

The Penguins limped into the All-Star break with their longest losing streak of the season and began the second half without their two unquestioned leaders. Crosby received an injection last Thursday to treat a lower-body injury suffered against Montreal earlier this month and missed the All-Star Game. While Crosby could return on Wednesday in Washington, Malkin is not skating at the moment and could miss a week or more.

For a night anyway, Pittsburgh survived without them.

The Penguins moved to 9-0-1 in games when they’ve been without both Crosby and Malkin since 2011. Having the blossoming Perron in place certainly helped. Buried on the third line in Edmonton, Perron has become the kind of scoring threat Pittsburgh needed to take some of the pressure off Crosby.

Perron has six goals in nine games with Pittsburgh after having just five in 38 with the Oilers. He jabbed a shot between Pavelec’s legs 4:23 into the third to tie the game and Sutter followed with the winner 7:52 into the third. Hornqvist chipped in an empty-net goal with 27 seconds remaining as Pittsburgh improved to 9-2-1 against the Western Conference.

Spaling gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 7:09 into the game following a pretty sequence in which Letang hit Perron with a long stretch pass. Perron, who has blossomed since arriving in a trade from Edmonton on Jan. 2, drew two defenders — and Pavelec — as he streaked down the right side. Perron’s centering pass landed right on Spaling’s blade and he flipped it into a wide-open net for his seventh of the season.

Winnipeg responded with two goals in the second period. Thorburn made a pretty deflection off a feed from Adam Lowry 2:13 into the second and Trouba followed with a heavy slap shot from the point that made its way through a sea of sticks and over Greiss’ glove.

The Penguins tied it late in the period after a heady play by Downie. With the clock ticking down, Downie moved in on the left side. Rather than force a shot he waited for Letang to hop on the ice and sent a crossing pass Letang’s way. Letang’s slap shot smacked off Pavelec’s right pad to Downie, who pounced on it to make it 2-2 with just 4.6 seconds left.

NOTES: Crosby did not play on the same night the team gave away a bobblehead in his honor. … Penguins D Rob Scuderi played in his 400th game with the team. … The Jets play at Philadelphia on Thursday. … Winnipeg fell to 13-5-4 against the Eastern Conference. … The Jets did not have a power play. Pittsburgh went 2 for 3 with the man advantage.

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