Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed Game 1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins Round 2 series against the Washington Capitals. Despite Malkin’s absence, the Penguins rallied for a 3-2 win at the Capital One Center.
After practice Saturday, Malkin was made available to reporters.
“I feel so much better. We’ll see what I feel overnight,” Malkin said. “I can’t say right now, but it feels so much better.”
That Malkin was made available to the media is almost a sure sign, barring setback, he will play Sunday, in Game 2.
Malkin reported his biggest issue during practice was conditioning.
“I haven’t skated in a week. It’s hard to tell right now, my breathing is hard,” he said. “I need a little bit more work and to help the team.”
Malkin has been one of the catalysts of the Penguins season. He had 42 goals and 56 assists in the regular season, as was routinely mentioned as a candidate for the Hart Trophy, though he was not one of the three finalists. In five games in Round 1, Malkin had five points (3g, 2a).
However, he will not take it slow in Game 2. He laughed when asked about easing back into the game flow.
“I think not. If you’re ready to play, you have to show you’re 100 percent. It’s not like the regular season, where you play slow in the first period,” Malkin admitted. “I have to show I’m ready on the first shift.”
Interesting admission about the regular season, too.
“Small pains, you know? Sometimes you need time to recover, but I’m trying to do my best. I couldn’t play (in Game 1), but maybe tomorrow.”
In Game 1, the Penguins had only one full power play chance and one 26-second opportunity. Technically, they were 0-2 and missed Malkin’s presence on the man-advantage.
“I’ll try to do my best. I hope we can score on the power play and be better for my linemates,” he said. “I believe in this group. We have great experience, great toughness, you know? But it’s tough to watch (and not play).”
“This group, it’s amazing guys,” Malkin concluded.