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The Malkin Postgame: ‘Hope I Score Hat Tricks soon,’ Teammates, Coach Praise

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin

It was 303 days since Evgeni Malkin scored a regular-season goal and 233 days since his last goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins Russian superstar returned to the lineup on Tuesday night for the first time this season and didn’t skip a beat as he scored not one but two goals and tallied three points in the Penguins 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Tristan Jarry stopped 25 of 26 shots, but the night wasn’t about another stellar goaltending performance.

Teammates and the head coach praised Malkin for his three-point night and the unique intangibles accompanying him. Malkin last played a regular-season game on March 16 against the Boston Bruins but returned for four playoff games two months later. He was one of the best Penguins players in their Round One series, despite playing on a right knee that needed surgery almost immediately afterward.

Editor’s note: Malkin also returned for four regular-season games, before playing in four of the six playoff games.

Evgeni Malkin Comeback

Malkin’s line scored just 65 seconds into the game on Tuesday night when Jeff Carter lit the lamp on a turning wrist shot.

Mike Sullivan:

“We were hopeful that he’d have an immediate impact, and to score two goals like he did (Tuesday), set-up an empty netter on one of (Carter’s) goals was quite an impact on the game,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think our strength conditioning guys, our medical team, and our skills coach (Ty Hennes) have done a terrific job with Geno behind the scenes for a long time here, getting him ready. And I think Geno himself has done a terrific job just being committed to trying to get back in as timely a fashion as he could. And obviously, we’re reaping the benefits of his impact out there (Tuesday).”

John Marino:

“On the ice, everything that he brings–he is an incredible player. But just having him in the locker room and being around the team and everything- the energy he brings, I’m sure you guys see it too. It’s awesome to have him back.”

Tristan Jarry: 

“He was awesome. He’s an awesome player in practice, and he’s an awesome player all of the time. It is great to have him back, and I think he does nothing but makes our team better. And you see the game that he brings every day, and it is going to do nothing but help us.”

Malkin: 

“Now I feel awesome. I mean, like it’s a long process for me. The longest break in my life. And yeah, of course, I’m glad to be with the team. I was a little bit nervous before the game, it was not a perfect game, but it was good. We win, and I score a couple of goals. It’s amazing. I feel so much easier right now.”

“It’s like–more games, more comfortable. After a long break, (I had) a couple of turnovers for sure. Next year, I hope I play more, and I feel like my physical leg (will be) be better. It’s still a process, not perfect, but it’s–how many games left?–it’s 40-plus games (and) a long season. I hope we are in the playoffs and I’m doing my best. I’m just happy because the game, it’s done. We won and just keep going.”

Did it feel good to score a goal after so long?

I’m not trying to celebrate like too hard, you know. I’m just want to have fun. We had a couple of good chances on the powerplay, and my partners gave me a nice pass. And yeah, I’m trying to do my job: shoot the puck, play the power play. Play simply, like when we’re playing 5v5 and doing my job. Like Coach told me before the game: play short, play simple, and you’ll be fine, and I tried to do it.”

The Game Situation

Sullivan put Jeff Carter in the unusual position of playing LW. Carter is both a righty and a natural center. When Carter played the wing with the LA Kings, he played on the right side, so it was foreign territory for Carter.

So, Carter scored two goals, too.

“That was part of the thought process when putting “Carts” on Geno’s line. He’s a real good defensive player, good on faceoffs. He’s a right-handed shot, so he can take them on his backhand on the right side. We weren’t sure if (Malkin) was going to be comfortable in the faceoffs,” Sullivan said. “It’s been a long time since he’s taken a faceoff in a hockey game, so we wanted to make sure that we surrounded Geno with the right people that that could help him have success.”

Kasperi Kapanen graded well in the PHN+ Pittsburgh Penguins report card for the first time in quite a while. Kapanen had a pair of assists and a couple of Grade-A chances, including a breakaway. Before Malkin was injured last March 16, Kapanen and Malkin were on fire. Kapanen had 14 points in his last 15 games (5-9-14), so there was some history to rekindle, too.

“(Malkin) has chemistry with “Kappy” offensively. And I think “Carts” brings a kind of a defensive conscience to that line with the ability to play center and take faceoffs. play down low if we need him to,” Sullivan said. “But (Carter) also has a scoring touch, as we saw in the first period. So that was part of the thought process going into the line combinations tonight.”

Evgeni Malkin Getting Comfortable, Hat Trick Soon?

Malkin had a pair of goals and the entire third period to chase a hat trick, including an empty net with more than three minutes remaining. However, Malkin passed to Carter, who hit the empty netter, instead.

“I think ‘shoot first,’ and I was looking. If I stayed a little bit closer…I probably shoot, but I was scared if I missed, it would be icing. I saw “Carts.” He’s a righty. He’s open. I’m always like being nice to my partners…but I hope I score a hat trick soon.”

Video courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins:

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William Maloni
William Maloni(@boysdad)
9 days ago

Geno, Geno, Geno….!!!

Ethan
Ethan
9 days ago
Reply to  William Maloni

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Love me some Geno! Watching that slap shot in slow motion whiz by a jumping Crosby was beautiful. But then this morning I started thinking how that puck was inches from Crosby’s kneecaps. Oh well hockey ain’t for sissies and it was nice to see them both on ice with Letang on PP– maybe someone else (not Guentzel either) can be the screen next time.

C Daniel
C Daniel(@danny)
9 days ago

Happy days!
(I know I’m always the nit-picker, but he was back at the end of the regular season before missing the first two play-off games).

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