Malhotra scored in the 11th shootout round to give the Blue Jackets a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
"We've been disappointing the hometown fans a little bit of late," Malhotra said of the Blue Jackets, who had lost three of four at home. "We just wanted to give them something to cheer about."
The Blue Jackets, who failed on four earlier chances to win the shootout, surrounded a smiling Malhotra to congratulate him and Leclaire.
"It was a great way to win the hockey game," said coach Gerard Gallant, whose team had lost six of seven.
It was the second-longest shootout this season. The New York Rangers beat Philadelphia in the 13th round on Oct. 7.
David Vyborny had two goals, Sergei Fedorov had a goal and an assist, and Ron Hainsey and Fredrik Modin each had two assists for Columbus. The Blue Jackets improved to 8-2-1 at home in the series against Calgary. Duvie Westcott also had a goal.
"It was like a playoff game," Vyborny said. "Calgary had seven points like we did. It's a big two points for us right now."
Daymond Langkow, slumping early in the season, broke out with a goal and two assists. Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf each added a goal and an assist for the Flames, who have lost four in a row overall and five straight on the road.
"It's disappointing," said Alex Tanguay, who added a goal. "We're not in a situation where we can give away points."
The Flames trailed 3-1 after a period but scored the next three goals to take the lead for the first time. Columbus tied it 4-4 on Vyborny's power-play tally, his second goal of the game and fourth this season, that came with 7:09 remaining in regulation.
"We needed a win, that was quite evident," Malhotra said. "We played a really strong first period but we had mental lapses in the second and let them back in the game. The main thing is that we came away with two points."
The Blue Jackets came in with just three goals in their last 46 power plays, but scored on their first three chances. The four power-play goals tied a franchise record.
It was only the second time in franchise history that the Blue Jackets converted on three power plays in a period.
Just 22 seconds after Iginla got Calgary even at 1, Westcott's shot from the right point slipped through traffic to beat McLennan, who was filling in for Miikka Kiprusoff. It was the 50th point of Westcott's four-year NHL career.
The Flames cut the lead to 3-2 just 19 seconds into the second period when Iginla skated in from the right wing and muscled a shot on Leclaire, with Langkow cleaning up on the long rebound.
Tanguay then scored off a pretty setup from Tony Amonte, who tried a wraparound with the puck sliding through the crease to Tanguay for his third of the season.
Phaneuf's one-timer from the right point made it 4-3.
"The last two periods were a step forward for this team," Calgary coach Jim Playfair said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win the hockey game. I view it as our first period didn't start with emotion and our second and third did."
- The Flames, who had just 15 shots in a 3-2 loss at Detroit on Wednesday night, mustered only five in the opening period but finished with 32.
- LW Rick Nash has gone eight games without a goal for the Blue Jackets.
- Iginla has five goals and three assists in his last six games.