The breakouts were short and straightforward. Evgeni Malkin played a full 200 feet, and a little more. But most importantly, the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated an opponent and finished their chances as they spanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 at PPG Paints Arena. Malkin dominated the first 30 minutes, and the Penguins did the rest.
It didn’t hurt the Penguins beat an unheralded goalie making his first NHL start or that Toronto looked like a team tanking to burn their head coach. But any two points are essential, especially against a team tied with the Penguins in the middle of the Eastern Conference for the final Wild-Card spot.
When the game was still competitive, the Penguins did a lot of things right. Those “details” head coach Mike Sullivan preaches were on full display, and Malkin led the way. One moment in the first period was Malkin coming late to the play; he barked for the puck could be heard in the rafters. Malkin is feeling it. He is charging forward like a bull. Count me as one who wondered how Malkin would react to Sidney Crosby’s absence. He’s acting as if it is 2011–that’s a very good thing.
“Usually, everyone in the rink can hear it when (Malkin) wants (the puck), and that’s an indication of just how invested he is into the game,” Sullivan said. “When he’s feeling it, he’s very vocal. He’s vocal on the bench. He’s vocal on the ice.”
The Penguins breakthrough began with Malkin but didn’t end there.