PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist and Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-1 victory over the injury-depleted Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.
Johan Franzen added his team-leading 14th goal for Detroit and Danny Cleary provided some insurance with a pair of late goals as the Red Wings won their third straight.
Evgeni Malkin scored his 11th goal of the season for Pittsburgh, but the Penguins went 0 for 4 on the power play and couldn't connect on their few quality chances.
The Penguins played without captain Sidney Crosby, who missed his third straight game and 23rd overall this season following a recurrence of concussion-like symptoms. Pittsburgh is 1-2-0 during Crosby's current absence, with both losses to members of the league's elite.
Philadelphia handled the Penguins in a 3-2 win last Thursday and the Red Wings survived a couple early scares to win in Pittsburgh for the first time in three seasons.
The teams have turned into heated rivals while splitting a pair of thrilling Stanley Cup finals in 2008 and 2009. Each views the other as a measuring stick of sorts, even without Crosby on the ice.
The 2007 MVP isn't the only Pittsburgh player dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Defensemen Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek and Robert Bortuzzo are also out while dealing with similar issues.
The Red Wings publicly lamented the chance to face Pittsburgh at full strength, but then again they had enough problems trying to rein in Malkin, who beat the clock at the end of the first period to give the Penguins the lead.
Brooks Orpik blocked a Detroit shot then fed the puck to James Neal, who quickly banged a pass off the board to create a 2-on-1 for Malkin and Chris Kunitz. Malkin sped down the wing and beat Howard to the stick side with just 4 seconds left in the first.
Malkin nearly made it 2-0 Pittsburgh early in the second, drilling the post on the power play, with the puck stopping right on the goal line before getting knocked out of danger.
The momentum wouldn't last. Datsyuk evened things with just under 4 minutes to go in the second, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with ease for his ninth goal of the season.
Malkin hit the post again early in the third period, and the Red Wings took advantage of the good fortune. Datsyuk stole a clearing attempt with Detroit on the power play and fed Franzen, who rifled the puck past Fleury to give Detroit its first lead.
Cleary pushed the lead to 3-1 with just over 4 minutes to go before adding an empty-netter.
Howard was stellar when he needed to be in winning his league-leading 18th game. Fleury stopped 21 shots while failing to win the 200th game of his career.
Pittsburgh fell to 12-8-3 when Crosby doesn't play. He missed the first 20 games of the season before electrifying the franchise upon his return on Nov. 21, scoring two goals in his season debut.
Yet he hasn't played since a 3-1 loss to Boston last week and said Monday he's out indefinitely.
The Penguins clearly need him against the league's better teams. The Flyers dictated play last week and Pittsburgh couldn't respond after the Red Wings got going in the third period.
NOTES: In addition to Crosby, Bartuzzo and Steve MacIntyre were also scratched by the Penguins. ... Mike Commodore and Cory Emmerton were scratched by the Red Wings. ... The Penguins travel to Ottawa on Friday while Detroit plays in Nashville on Thursday. ... Pittsburgh is 6-1-3 against Western Conference opponents this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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