Evgeni Malkin line propels Pittsburgh over Los Angeles

Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen combined for six points in the win.

Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen combined for six points in the win.

Though Sidney Crosby finished with only one assist, the Penguins second line of Evgeni Malkin, Jussi Jokinen, and James Neal recorded a combined for six points to help propel Pittsburgh over a struggling Los Angeles Kings team in L.A.

The game moved the Penguins to an impressive 8-1 agains the Pacific division, including 3-0 against San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles.

For the second game in a row, Malkin was the best player on the ice for the Penguins.  He looked like he was playing a video game throughout the entire contest, culminating in one of the prettiest goals so far this year.

Catching fire since Evgeni Malkin’s return from injury, winger Jussi Jokinen is emerging as the top offensive priority for Pittsburgh to re-sign this offseason.  The 30 year-old Finn had a goal and two assists, including this snipe after a nice feed by Malkin.

Heck of a pass to set up Kunitz for that first goal, too.  Perhaps the quietest acquisition GM Ray Shero made at last year’s deadline, Jokinen has emerged as a legitimate top-six winger.  Though he gets rotated between the third and second lines when Beau Bennett is healthy, I can’t see any reason to take him off of Malkin’s wing right now.  The two seem to have an excellent chemistry together, as well as with RW James Neal.

Up and down, Thursday was one of Pittsburgh’s best team win’s all season.  Excellent goaltending from backup Jeff Zatkoff and a beautiful backhanded goal from unlikely scorer Tanner Glass helped Pittsburgh to a victory.

Pittsburgh returns to action tonight against the Coyotes in Glendale, which should be another excellent litmus test to see how the Penguins stack up against the West.  Though they’re not the Blackhawks, Phoenix has excellent goaltending in Mike Smith and are an extremely speedy bunch, something that gives the penguins trouble from time to time.