All-Star Evgeni Malkin collected his eighth NHL hat trick by scoring three straight goals in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their seventh consecutive loss with a 6-3 road triumph on Sunday.
Prior to securing his natural hat trick, Malkin assisted on both of James Neal's power-play tallies to tie a career high with five points. The Russian also had a hat trick and five points in an 8-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 17.
Pittsburgh posted its second straight win following a six-game losing skid. The Penguins snapped a four-game winless streak against Tampa Bay, dating back to last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
After Teddy Purcell scored Tampa Bay's third goal in a span of 4:50 of the third period to level the contest at 3-3, Malkin put Pittsburgh back on top just 48 seconds later by beating Mathieu Garon under the crossbar.
Malkin scored again just 1:51 later after the Lightning executed a poor line change. He then skated in and deftly tucked the puck past Garon while falling to the ice. Malkin capped the natural hat trick by scoring his 21st of the season with 56 seconds remaining.
Neal opened the scoring just 2:43 into the contest after banking the puck off Garon's pads from a sharp angle. After Richard Park doubled the advantage nearly eight minutes later with his first goal since Oct. 25, Neal netted his team-leading 24th goal just 34 seconds into the third period.
Defenseman Matt Gilroy ended Marc-Andre Fleury's bid for his 22nd career shutout two minutes into the third. Former Penguin Ryan Malone's deflection trimmed the deficit in half for Tampa Bay, which last lost seven in a row to close out the 2008-09 season.