“Three years, Super League,” Evgeni Malkin said to Sidney Crosby before the Penguins newbies took the ice in their first game together in 2006. Crosby wanted to go on the ice last, and so did Malkin. So, with his limited English, Malkin carved out the now infamous phrase to explain he had seniority over Crosby.
Tuesday night, Evgeni Malkin, 33, joined Penguins royalty, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Sidney Crosby as players to score 400 goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The marker wasn’t Malkin’s prettiest or most individually jaw-dropping. It was a simple empty netter to ice the 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“Every goal is special. It’s a good number for sure, but I’ve played with a great team. I’ve always enjoyed playing here,” Malkin said. “It’s a huge number, but I want more for sure.”
“It’s a huge year for me. I want to play better every game. I won’t forget this number and the next two games are huge. We play in Edmonton and back to back. I want 100 more.”
This season, Malkin has 29 points (9g, 20a) in just 21 games. As news of Crosby’s injury broke, Malkin held court in the locker room and the fire alarm went off. He joked, “I am fire,” and knew he needed to be his best to help the Penguins overcome the loss of Crosby. He’s been that and more.
Malkin’s empty-net goal Tuesday night counts the same as the 399 which preceded it. In addition to infamous Malkin-isms like, “Three years, Super League,” “I am score,” and recently, “I am fire,” he has carried the Penguins over the past six weeks while Crosby heals from core muscle surgery.
Malkin was not healthy on Tuesday night. He missed the previous two games due to illness and he was obviously not in game shape but led the Penguins to the 4-1 win.
“Not my best game for sure, but I don’t care. We won two points,” Malkin said.
And Malkin has been terrific. In celebration of Malkin’s 400th goal, here are his top-five goals, including his first when he poked a loose puck through some goalie named Martin Brodeur.
No. 4: Between his Legs vs. Minnesota Nov. 17, 2015
Before the Penguins fired head coach Mike Johnston and before the Penguins became a Stanley Cup contender, Malkin ripped this beaut against Minnesota.
No 3: Evgeni Malkin has scored a few beauties against Tampa Bay, including this gem as he went coast-to-coast on Feb. 25, 2012:
No 2: Malkin liked scoring his first goal against the New Jersey Devils, so he tortured them a little more a week later with one of the best goals of his career. The celebration was emphatic, too.
No 1: The Spin-O-Rama vs. Edmonton was just hockey at it’s finest. Malkin back checked, stole the puck and then broke their hearts.