Evgeni Malkin was moved by the tributes and ceremony. While the team honored him with a visit from his family and his young son Nikita announcing the lineup in the locker room on Sunday for his 1000th game, Pittsburgh Penguins fans and the organization had a chance to pay tribute on Wednesday, and it gave Malkin a case of the feels.
And Malkin played the hero by scoring the shootout winner in the Penguins’ 2-1 SO win over the Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena.
In addition to his family surprising him on Sunday, Malkin’s got to see his parents before the game, and former landlord and mentor, Sergei Gonchar, made an appearance in Pittsburgh, too.
“It’s a surprise. These last few days, I’m crying every day because the team gave me so many surprises — like my wife and son came to Chicago before the game. I had no idea, and (more) guys came tonight. I had no idea, too … lots of good things. I’m excited we won the last two games it’s special for me.”
Longtime friends Marc-Andre Fleury and Max Talbot sent congratulatory videos. So, too, did Russian friends Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk. Several years ago, Kovalchuk broked the friendship mending between Malkin and fellow Russian star
Just for some faux drama, Malkin also admitted in the past, he thought about changing teams. One of the great things about Malkin is he speaks the truth, usually without a filter, and his 17-year tenure with the Penguins hasn’t always been happy times. He thought about it a few times, but the Pittsburgh Penguins and Malkin have become inexorably linked.
“I tell you true, I have in my head like sometimes how maybe I should change teams. I have this thinking, but again it’s crazy (to think I could) stay in the same city with the same team,” Malkin said.
Malkin won the game with a backhand deke in the shootout past Calgary Flames goalie Dan Vladar. And Malkin was honest about that, too.
“He’s big. I think he’s looking for the first shot,” Evgeni Malkin said. “I faked a little bit — my backhand, it’s not perfect — I have a big curve (on my stick), but I say, ‘why not?’ I needed a fake shot, it’s working, and I like it.”