If Evgeni Malkin is right about his game turning around for the better, he can always point to his goal Saturday in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at PPG Paints Arena as an example.
The goal, which tied the game 1-1 at 7:54 of the first period, was some kind of eye candy.
Malkin swooped in from the right circle behind the net and tapped a backhanded wraparound shot inside the far post. Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott was caught off guard and completely out of position.
“I thought the goal was dynamic,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “It was a good play all around by all the people involved, but certainly it’s a goal-scorers type goal.”
Crosby threads the needle and Malkin does the rest. pic.twitter.com/5akUVUxX3K
— Philly Hockey Now (@phillyhockeynow) March 6, 2021
Malkin, who added an assist on Jared McCann’s winning goal in the third period, was named the No. 1 star of the game.
Things didn’t start off in sterling fashion for Malkin. He took an offensive zone penalty just 56 seconds into the first period when he was called for interfering with Philadelphia’s Travis Sanheim.
The Penguins killed that penalty.
Atonement came with that pretty goal.
“I thought ‘Geno’ had a good game,” Sullivan said. “He’s competing out there. He commanded the puck an awful lot. I thought he was a threat. It felt like he was a threat every time he went over the boards. That’s when he’s at his best. I thought he was a difference-maker in the game. … Geno had an impact on the game, on both sides of the puck.”
Malkin, 34, who has a busy trophy case topped by three Stanley Cups, has been the first to admit that he has been out of sorts for most of this shortened season, although if he has an idea why things didn’t start well, he hasn’t shared it.
He has said recently that he feels his game getting stronger. Of his 16 points, nine have come over the past nine games.
“(Malkin) has been a tremendous player, a pillar in Pittsburgh sports for numerous years,” Penguins winger Brandon Tanev said.
“Obviously, there haven’t been bounces going his way this year, but (he) works as hard as anybody. He’s on the ice honing his game. I think you see that (Saturday). The bounces went his way. He’s going to keep with it. He’s a leader for us, and I think he did a great job for us, helping us get a win.”