PITTSBURGH — Another lacklustre start left the Pittsburgh Penguins facing a two-goal deficit.
Once again, Evgeni Malkin was there to rally them.
Malkin scored a hat trick to help the Penguins defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Saturday.
It was the 10th hat trick of his career and first since Feb. 25, 2012. Malkin leads the team with 23 goals and 47 points, and has 19 points in his last 15 games.
“He took some initiative and I thought his actions spoke,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He brought his game to another level and I thought his intensity level was high.”
“He was a difference maker for us, that’s for sure,” he said.
Sidney Crosby scored an empty-net goal with 1:23 left, giving him a point in a season-best six straight games. He has 16 goals this year, and 21 points in his last 16 games.
The Penguins trailed 2-0 for the second game in a row. They have come back to win both of them.
Jannik Hansen had a hat trick for Vancouver, the second of his career. He scored 27 seconds into the game, and got his 16th goal of the season with 17 seconds left in the third period.
Vancouver started quickly after some transportation trouble. The team bus couldn’t make it up a hill near Consol Energy Center, forcing players to walk to the arena.
The Canucks said the extra walk didn’t factor in their late letdown.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Daniel Sedin said. “I think we were ready. We played well for two periods and in the third, we made a few mistakes and it cost us.”
Pittsburgh was down 3-1 in the third period before scoring three times in a span of 5:44. The Penguins were down by two goals in seven of their previous 11 games and came back to earn points in six of them.
“We talked before the game about the slow start last game, but we had the same start tonight,” Malkin said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I think we were ready before the game, but after the first period we were losing 2-0 again.”
“We can’t score five goals every game,” he said. “We need to change and play better in the first period.”
The Penguins have gotten points in seven straight home games. They are 8-3-4 after losing their first four games under Sullivan, who was an assistant with the Canucks in 2013-14.
Bo Horvat scored for the Canucks, who had a chance to finish their six-game road trip with four wins and nine of 12 possible points.
“I think if we would’ve gotten this game it would’ve been a great road trip,” Horvat said. “It’s unfortunate, but we have to take the positives out of it and move on.”
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for his sixth straight decision against the Canucks. Ryan Miller made 25 saves for Vancouver.
Horvat put Vancouver ahead 3-1 six minutes into the third period, beating Fleury high to the glove side with a sharp wrist shot from between the circles.
Malkin tied it on a pair of goals scored 3:06 apart. He scored when his centring pass was knocked into the net by Vancouver’s Linden Vey, then completed his hat trick with a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot.
Saturday’s game was announced as a standing room-only sellout, but empty seats were noticeable in the arena one game after the franchise celebrated its 400th consecutive sellout.
NOTES: The Penguins’ game scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Washington has been postponed because of the snowstorm. … The Penguins have 12 power-play goals in their last 12 games. . Penguins F Chris Kunitz was a late scratch after sustaining a lower body injury Thursday against Philadelphia. … Penguins D Derrick Pouliot made his season debut and F Beau Bennett played after missing 17 games with an upper body injury. Pouliot, a 2012 first-round pick, played 34 games for Pittsburgh last season with two goals and seven points. Bennett hadn’t played since Dec. 14 against Washington. . Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter and Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino, key players in an off-season trade between the two teams, both missed the game because of injuries. … Vancouver begins a three-game homestand Tuesday against Nashville.