NHL: Kris Letang returns, scores OT winner as Penguins top Panthers

Kris Letang, back from an 11-game injury absence, scored a power-play goal on a blast from the left circle with 53.1 seconds left in overtime Tuesday to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a wild 7-6 win over the visiting Florida Panthers.

Letang, who was activated from long-term injured reserve earlier in the day, finished with two goals and two assists.

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Sidney Crosby, Evgen Malkin and Danton Heinen each added a goal and two assists. Drew O’Connor posted a goal and an assist, and Rickard Rakell also scored for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh goaltender Casey DeSmith, starting after Tristan Jarry surprisingly turned up injured, made 33 saves.

Carter Verhaeghe had two goals for the Panthers. Aaron Ekblad had a goal and two assists, Sam Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk a goal and an assist apiece and Colin White one goal.

Florida goaltender Alex Lyon made 42 saves.

Reinhart scored the first of six combined goals in the first when he roofed a shot at 6:42 for a 1-0 Florida lead.

Tkachuk notched his 25th goal 1:26 later for a 2-0 Panthers lead. His swat from a crowd trickled off DeSmith.

At 10:56, Rakell closed it to 2-1. A shot by Letang at the right point was double-deflected — by Malkin backward between his skates in the near circle and then by Rakell.

One minute later, Heinen tied it 2-2 when he chipped in a rebound.

Letang redirected a shot by Brian Dumoulin at 18:14 to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.

With 40.8 seconds left in the first, DeSmith came out to challenge Verhaeghe on a breakaway but muffed it and the puck bounced in for a 3-3 tie.

At 10:34 of the second, Ekblad scored a short-handed goal off the rush for a 4-3 Panthers lead.

Crosby tied it 4-4 with a backhander on a power play with 40.6 seconds left in the second.

At 4:10 of the third, White swept the puck around DeSmith after a Penguins turnover for a 5-4 Florida lead, but O’Connor scored out of a scramble at 10:29 for another tie.

Malkin scored a power-play goal on a one-timer at 14:30, and Verhaeghe tucked the puck inside the right post at 17:28 to make it 6-all.

–Field Level Media

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