Malkin scores twice, but takes penalty that turns game
December 15, 2010 5:00 AM
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby works the puck against Flyers forward Jeff Carter as goaltender Brian Boucher looks on in the first period of an Tuesday's game at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PHILADELPHIA -- Evgeni Malkin's comeback game was, in a lot of ways, a resounding success.
He scored both of his team's goals.
Accounted for eight of its 23 shots.
Stepped into an opening on the No. 1 line, and didn't look the least bit out of place.
Trouble is, he also took an ill-considered penalty that led to the deciding goal in the Penguins' 3-2 loss to Philadelphia Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Not quite an other-than-that-how-did-you-like-the-play-Mrs. Lincoln moment, to be sure, but not all that far from it, either.
The defeat snapped the Penguins' 12-game winning streak, which had matched the eighth-longest in NHL history, as well as a run of seven consecutive victories on the road, which had tied a franchise record.
Game: New York Rangers at Penguins, 7:08 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
Probable goaltenders:Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist for Rangers.
Penguins: Are 7-0 at home since 3-2 overtime loss to Rangers there Nov. 15. ... C Max Talbot does not have point in past six games at Consol Energy Center. ... Are 5-0 in second game when playing on consecutive days.
Rangers: Have gone 11-5 on road. ... C Chris Drury is scheduled to play after missing 31 games with broken finger. ... Have scored first in 21 of 32 games.
Of note: Rangers are only 6-8 when outshooting opponents, but 12-3-1 when being outshot.
It also allowed the Flyers to hurdle the Penguins and move into first place in the overall standings.
Philadelphia couldn't prevent Penguins center Sidney Crosby from extending his scoring streak to 19 games, matching the longest of his NHL career, however, as he assisted on both of Malkin's goals.
Malkin had missed the previous four games because of a knee injury, but stepped into a spot on Crosby's line when Chris Kunitz was unable to play because of an undisclosed injury.
He worked on Crosby's right side, while Pascal Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy moved into Kunitz's usual spot on the left.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Kunitz is "probably not likely" to be in the lineup when the Penguins, winners of seven in a row at home, face the New York Rangers at 7:08 tonight at Consol Energy Center, but did not completely rule him out of the game.
Malkin, conversely, seems like a pretty good bet to play against the Rangers.
He logged 21 minutes, 29 seconds of ice time Tuesday night and showed no signs of having trouble with his knee.
"I felt pretty good," he said, "but I'm tired."
More than a little upset with himself, too, because his interference minor at 9:06 of the third -- which he took in response to a check on Crosby -- gave the Flyers their sixth power play of the evening, and made Scott Hartnell's winner possible.
"It was my fault," Malkin said. "I saw he hit Sid, and I was a little bit mad. But he didn't have the puck, and I tried to hit him. It was a stupid penalty. It was my fault."
Malkin apparently wasn't the only one who made a mistake around the middle of that period. Hartnell, who was battling with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik in front of the net, was credited with deflecting Chris Pronger's shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 9:54 to break a 2-2 tie.
Not so, according to Orpik.
"They gave it to Hartnell," he said, "but it hit my stick."
The Penguins, it should be noted, were far more unhappy with their play early in the game than they were with a possible clerical error by the official scorer.
Philadelphia controlled play for much of the opening period -- "We were disappointed in the first period, in particular," Bylsma said.
"Philadelphia dictated the pace ... especially the first 10 or 12 minutes of the game" -- and after rarely having to play from behind during their winning streak, the Penguins never had a lead against the Flyers.
"It's tough to play catch-up," Orpik said. "Especially on the road against a team that good."
They battled back, however, after Claude Giroux gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead at 12:32 of the first, tying the score on Malkin's power-play goal at 8:23 of the second.
And, after Nikolai Zherdev put Philadelphia back on top by scoring on a two-on-one break at 12:28 of the second, Malkin struck again at 3:18 of the third during a four-on-three advantage.
"Our power play was good to catch us up on two occasions," Bylsma said.
But the Penguins gave Philadelphia too many chances with the extra man -- "We took way too many penalties," Orpik said -- and the Flyers used the final one to get the goal that decided the outcome. And, in the process, reduced the Penguins' winning streak to a footnote in hockey history. Not that the Penguins were particularly worried about such things after the game.
"We lost two points tonight," Fleury said. "That's what stinks."