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Crosby posts goal, 3 assists in return, Pens rout Wild 7-3

Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists in his first game back from abdominal surgery and the Pittsburgh Penguins rolled past Minnesota 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Crosby needed less than eight minutes to pick up his first point since before Halloween, assisting on Evgeni Malkin's first goal of the night 7:57 in. Crosby added his sixth goal of the season in the third period when he slipped a backhand past Devan Dubnyk as the Penguins rolled to their fourth straight victory.

Malkin finished with two goals and a pretty no-look drop pass to set up Bryan Rust's 19th of the season. Jared McCann scored for the fourth time in five games for Pittsburgh, Dominik Simon added his fifth, and Tristan Jarry stopped 25 shots to improve to 11-0-1 in his last 12 starts against Western Conference opponents.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby plays during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Crosby hadn't played since undergoing abdominal surgery on Nov. 14. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

Crosby skated 17:53 after missing 28 games following abdominal surgery and looked just as dangerous as ever as the Penguins pulled within four points of first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division.

Zach Parise scored twice and Marcus Foligno added his ninth for the Wild, who spotted the Penguins a four-goal lead. Dubnyk finished with 22 saves, and the Wild fell to 1-5-1 in their last seven games.

BLUE JACKETS 3, BRUINS 0

Elvis Merzlikins recorded his second consecutive shutout and Columbus beat Atlantic Division-leading Boston for its fourth win in five games.

Alexander Wennberg, Kevin Stenlund and Riley Nash scored for Columbus.

Merzlikins won for the sixth time in his last eight starts and turned aside all 34 shots he faced. His five wins since Dec. 31 tie him for the NHL lead with Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Boston goaltender Jaroslav Halak entered the game at 1:12 of the first period after Tukka Rask was inadvertently struck in the head by an elbow in the crease. Halak stopped 24 shots in relief as the Bruins lost their second straight and were shut out for the first time this season.

SABRES 4, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2

Jack Eichel scored the go-ahead goal on an end-to-end rush 7:57 into the third period in Buffalo's win over slumping Vegas.

The goal was Eichel's career-high-matching 28th of the season and came in a game in which he added an assist to become Buffalo's first player in 27 years to reach the 60-point mark in 46 or fewer games. Sam Reinhart had a goal and two assists, and Kyle Okposo and Curtis Lazar, with an empty-netter, also scored.

Linus Ullmark stopped 23 shots, and the Sabres improved to 4-2 in their past six.

Reilly Smith and Tomas Nosek scored for the Golden Knights, who have lost four straight to match their longest streak without a point in their three-year franchise history.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots.

ISLANDERS 8, RED WINGS 2

Brock Nelson scored twice and the Islanders routed Detroit.

New York scored three times in the first eight minutes. The league-worst Red Wings were out of it early, and Thomas Greiss made 34 saves to back the Islanders.

Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey and Nelson chased Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with their three early goals. Calvin Pickard relieved and stopped 14 of 19 shots.

Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Noah Dobson and Leo Komarov also scored for the Islanders.

Filip Hronek and Givani Smith scored for Detroit.

LIGHTNING 4, KINGS 3, SO

Nikita Kucherov scored late to force overtime and Steven Stamkos delivered the game-deciding goal in a shootout as Tampa Bay rallied to beat Los Angeles.

Brayden Point also beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the shootout, helping the Lightning rebound from a 2-1 loss to New Jersey that stopped Tampa Bay’s franchise record-tying 10-game winning streak on Sunday.

Stamkos and Alex Killorn also scored in regulation for the Lightning, who overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2. Kucherov’s 18th goal of the season made it 3-3 with 1:15 remaining in the third period.

Quick stopped 35 of 38 shots for Los Angeles, which took a 3-2 lead when Dustin Brown scored on the power play at 12:00 of the third.

Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, who blanked the Arizona Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers in his previous two starts, finished with 38 saves.

MAPLE LEAFS 7, DEVILS 4

Auston Matthews had his first hat trick since scoring four times in his NHL debut and Toronto beat New Jersey.

John Tavares scored as part of a three-point night for the Leafs and Rasmus Sandin had two assists in his first game since getting called up from the minors to help reinforce the injury-riddled defense corps. William Nylander and Zach Hyman each had a goal and an assist, and Frederik Gauthier had the other goal for Toronto (25-16-6), which entered winless in its previous three games. Mitch Marner chipped in with two assists.

Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for the Leafs.

Blake Coleman, with his first-career hat trick, and P.K. Subban scored for New Jersey. Will Butcher had three assists. Louis Domingue allowed five goals on 19 shots before getting yanked midway through the second period. Veteran backup Cory Schneider finished with 13 saves.

BLACKHAWKS 3, SENATORS 2, OT

Jonathan Toews scored 42 seconds into overtime and assisted on Chicago's two other goals in a win over Ottawa.

Dominik Kubalik added a pair of goals for the Blackhawks. Robin Lehner stopped 20 shots.

Connor Brown and Chris Tierney scored first-period goals for the Senators. Rookie goaltender Marcus Hogberg started in net for the third straight game and made 27 saves.

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