SUNRISE, Florida. — — Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang scored in his third game since the stroke and the Penguins beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Thursday night.
Letang suffered a stroke on Nov. 28, returned to practice 10 days later and returned to the lineup Saturday against Buffalo. In the second period against Florida, Letang scored short-handed off a breakaway pass from Bryan Rust to tie the game at 1.
“He’s worked hard, especially to come back this fast,” Pittsburgh senior Sidney Crosby said. “It was a big goal in the game, a short-handed goal is big, but for what he’s been through, it’s nice to see him out there doing his thing. He really didn’t make his way easy and he likes that.”
Jake Guentzel had two goals and Evgeni Malkin had a goal for the Penguins. They won their seventh straight and are 12-1-1 in their last 14 games.
Tristan Jarry made 32 saves in winning his sixth straight start. Jarry is 10-0-1 in his last 11 games.
Ryan Lomberg and Sam Reinhart scored for Florida.
Malkin appeared to injure his right knee on his goal as he was hit by Crosby’s slap shot.
The puck went off the post, but Malkin hit the ice and had to be helped to the team’s medical room. Malkin previously had surgery on his right knee, but neither Crosby nor coach Mike Sullivan thought it was too serious an injury.
“It’s a fun way to score, but a goal is a goal,” Sullivan said. “The preliminary forecast is positive, so it is a positive sign.”
Guentzel scored at 12:42 of the period, beating Malkin on his skate. He also scored an empty netter with 1:18 left.
Malkin’s goal made it 3-1 as Pittsburgh went 2-for-3 on the power play and also got Letang’s shorthanded goal.
Lomberg gave the Panthers, who were playing without leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk due to an unspecified illness, a 1-0 lead on an Eric Staal rebound 5:30 into the game.
Reinhart took a one-time pass from Carter Verhaeg at 10:14 of the third.
Florida goaltender Sergey Bobrovsky had a shutout and 35 saves in Tuesday’s win against Columbus.
“I thought they were playing 5-on-5 with their ass on a guy,” Florida coach Paul Morris said of his team. “It was a sprint game and there was no other way to play it than full-out. I thought we did a good job.”
The Panthers again started the game short as Tkachuk did not play due to an illness that spread through his team’s locker room. Captain Alexander Barkov, Anton Lundell, Verheghe and Spencer Knight have all missed games in the past few weeks due to illness. Florida was also without Radko Gudas and Chris Tierney as both are in the concussion protocol. Colin White did not play due to an unspecified injury. … Pittsburgh forward Jason Zucker remains out with a foot injury. Drew O’Connor and Mark Friedman were the Penguins’ healthy scratches.
Penguins. Sunday at Carolina.
Panthers. in New Jersey Saturday night.