PITTSBURGH — If you watched the Penguins’ 3-1 win Thursday, you might have been impressed with Evgeni Malkin’s diving play to score the winning goal, a goal that needed the benefit of a review and then had to withstand a challenge from the Washington Capitals.
Malkin wasn’t all that enamored. In fact, he called it a “garbage goal.”
We’ll wait while you laugh and roll your eyes …
Malkin gave an entertaining account of the goal and the moments afterward as he waited to see if it would count.
First, he did his best to defer to Patric Hornqvist for most of the credit on his power-play goal at 17:31 of the second period that produced a 2-1 lead. Hornqvist did play a big part; Malkin just finished it by diving at the puck as it lay on the goal line and pushing it over the line before Washington goaltender Braden Holtby pulled it back out with his glove.
“It’s not my (play),” Malkin insisted. “It’s (Hornqvist). He’s unbelievable. He stayed in front. He created a rebound and give it to me right away. I see an open right side. I shoot quick as I can and the puck went in. It’s not me; it’s all (Hornqvist).”
There was no call on the play, meaning that if it went to review – which it did – there was going to need to be irrefutable evidence that the puck crossed the goal line.
Playing in his second game after returning from a lower-body injury, Malkin wasn’t exactly optimistic or ready to celebrate.
“When I was (still) on the ice, I think it’s no-goal,” he said. “I didn’t see the puck cross the line. I’m like … so mad because it was a good chance to score, but after that we watched the replay and we scored. It gave me a little more confidence. I’m glad. I had a great chance last game but I hit the post, and the post again this game. It’s crazy.”
Even with the play being reviewed, Malkin didn’t look up at the scoreboard to watch a replay. Most people probably would have, but Malkin isn’t most people.
“Sid (Crosby) told me,” Malkin said. “He looked at the replay on the bench and said it should be a goal because it crossed the red line. I didn’t watch. I just waited to see what the referee said. When he said good goal, but they take a challenge, it’s longer and I’m a little bit worried.
“Again, sometimes they give us a good goal and we’ll take it. It’s not a great goal. It’s a garbage goal for me.”
Pittsburgh Hockey Now got a very brief chance at the end of Malkin’s crowded scrum with reporters to rib him a little about calling it a garbage goal. He simply shrugged.
During the scrum, a reporter asked Malkin in a semi-wisecracking manner whether the goal was something out of Max Talbot’s playbook. Talbot, the Game 7 hero of the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup run, is playing in Russia now in the Kontinental Hockey League, but he was in town and at PPG Paints Arena Thursday.
“I’m happy,” Malkin, who is Russian, said of Talbot’s visit. “I hadn’t seen him in a long time. I’m glad he’s here. I want to talk to him. He’s playing in Russia. We text each other sometimes. He texted me in Russian a couple times. It’s so funny.”
Malkin was asked if having his play stand as a goal balanced things some after Hornqvist had a play called no goal upon review in Game 2. That review decision occurred despite widely disseminated video evidence that seemed to show the puck over the goals line.
“We’re even. But we’ll forget that,” Malkin said. “It’s a new game, a new referee. It’s a good goal. We’re happy. Sometimes it’s a bad call against us. Sometimes it’s a good call. But we’re looking at the next game.
“We understand (the series) is not over; it’s just a new game, a new challenge for us. We’re going to Washington, good team, crazy building.”
Game 5 is Saturday night.