CHRIS KUNITZ scored his 19th goal, Sidney Crosby had two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a four-goal lead before beating the visiting Minnesota Wild, 5-2, last night for their season-high sixth straight victory.
Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta sealed the Penguins' win when he scored on a third-period penalty shot. Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter each scored for the second consecutive game, and defenseman Matt Niskanen also tallied for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 12 overall and a nine straight home game.
Crosby extended his season-best point streak to nine games. He leads the league with 51 points.
Jason Pominville netted his team-high 16th goal and Dany Heatley scored 3:13 into the third period for the Wild, turning a three-goal deficit into a 4-2 game.
The Wild had an opportunity to make it a one-goal game shortly after with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:46, but the Penguins killed both penalties.
Maatta was awarded a penalty shot after he was hauled down by Jonas Brodin on a breakaway.
The Wild played their first game without starting goalie Josh Harding, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. It's a move that allows Harding time to make adjustments to medication for his multiple sclerosis. Harding, expected to return Dec. 27 at Winnipeg, led the league in goals-against average and ranked second in save percentage entering yesterday.
In other games
* At Toronto, James Van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul scored in the shootout and the Maple Leafs beat the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-1.
Troy Bodie scored in regulation and James Reimer made 34 saves for the win, just the Leafs' second in their past seven games.
Martin Hanzal scored for the Coyotes and Mike Smith made 26 saves.
* At Buffalo, Drew Stafford scored the winning goal in the third period, and Ryan Miller made 34 saves in the Sabres' 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn both had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Myers also scored for Buffalo, which won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 15.
Brad Marchand scored both goals for the Bruins.
* At Tampa, Fla., Goaltender Anders Lindback won in his first game against his former team, Alex Killorn had a goal and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Nashville Predators, 4-2.
The Lightning also got goals from Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Richard Panik.
Lindback stopped six shots, including a pair of quality chances by David Legwand, during a 2-minute stretch late in the first period. Tampa Bay acquired Lindback in a trade with Nashville on June 15, 2012.
Craig Smith had two goals for the Predators.
* At Ottawa, Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky scored in the final 3 minutes, and the Florida Panthers topped the Senators, 4-2, for their fifth straight win.
Chris Neil and Jason Spezza scored for the Senators who have lost two straight.
* At St. Louis, Alexander Steen scored the game's first two goals 1 day after agreeing on a 3-year, $17.4 million contract extension, to lead the Blues to a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
T.J. Oshie had two assists and Jaroslav Halak had 25 saves for St. Louis, which broke a two-game losing streak.
Brendan Gallagher scored for the Canadiens.
* At Dallas, Erik Cole had a goal and two assists and Kari Lehtonen had 27 saves to lead the Stars over the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1.
Chris Higgins scored for Vancouver.
* At Detroit, Daniel Alfredsson scored two goals, including a power-play score at 1:03 of overtime and the Red Wings earned a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
The win snapped Detroit's six-game winless streak (0-4-2) and five-game home losing streak.
Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano scored for Calgary.
* At Denver, Max Talbot broke a second-period tie as the Colorado Avalanche downed the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2.
* At Los Angeles, Martin Jones made 31 saves in his seventh consecutive win to begin his NHL career, and fellow rookie Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist in the Kings' 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
* Forward Colin Fraser was activated by Los Angeles after a three-game absence with an apparent concussion.
The Kings reassigned forward Linden Vey to their AHL affiliate in Manchester.
* Buffalo acquired left wing Linus Omark from Edmonton for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
Omark, a fourth-round selection by Edmonton in the 2007 draft, has eight goals and 22 assists in 66 NHL games.