Penguins Notebook: Malkin tried to duck taking a penalty

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TAMPA, Fla. -- When Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier came charging after Evgeni Malkin , the Penguins center had one thought.

"I just wanted to play hockey. I didn't want to fight with him," Malkin said of a third-period incident Sunday in the Penguins' 6-3 win at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"It's the last five minutes, and I wanted to stay on the ice."

Lecavalier looked to have lined up his counterpart near the corner boards, but Malkin ducked and Lecavalier tumbled into the boards. Lecavalier jumped up, approached Malkin from behind and half-bear-hugged, half-punched him.

A scrum ensued. Malkin wound up taking a minor roughing penalty, but Lecavalier got double roughing penalties and a 10-minute misconduct at 12:11 of the third period, ending his game.

Lecavalier did not speak to reporters, but Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher indicated that his captain and third-leading scorer thought Malkin clipped him.

"He came [toward me]. I was at the boards," Malkin said. "I just looked at the last second.

"I passed to my [teammate] and [ducked] down because I wanted to save myself because I didn't see him before. I don't know. Maybe I made a dangerous play, but it's the game. He didn't like it. He came to me and tried to fight."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma figured Lecavalier's actions had something to do with the fact Tampa Bay had scored three quick goals in the third period to forge a 3-3 tie, only to watch Malkin come back and score twice before the incident.

"Getting to 5-3, I think there were some emotions on the other side," Bylsma said. "Those happen. It's hockey."

Told it's not like Lecavalier to respond that way, Bylsma shot back, "It's not like [Malkin], either.

"I don't think either of those guys have put stamps on their career by playing that way."

Johnson not forgotten

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 21st win in what was his 11th start in the past 12 games and 37th appearance in 45 games.

With three games in four nights coming up this week, backup Brent Johnson likely will start one. He has started just nine games, has been pulled his past two starts and doesn't have the strong numbers he put up in his first two seasons with the Penguins.

He is 2-5-2 with a 3.47 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage.

Bylsma said he has not reduced Johnson's playing time.

"Right now the games that they're in is per the schedule, with the number of games we would like ideally Marc to play and ideally that we would like Brent to play," he said. "So there's no change in that.

"Brent will continue to get some games going forward, and we need him to play those games. Marc can't play the next [38] games that are left."

Johnson was a combined 23-11-4 his first two seasons with the Penguins. He was particularly strong the first several weeks of 2010-11 while Fleury got off to a shaky start and finished that season with a career-best .922 save percentage and a 2.17 goals-against average that matched his career best.

"We know Brent's a proud guy, a guy who stepped in last year for us and won some big hockey games for us," Bylsma said.

We expect him to be able to do that again as we go down the stretch here."

Tip-ins

While Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (concussion symptoms) has been on the two-game trip to Florida and skated Friday and Saturday, defenseman Kris Letang (concussion) remained in Pittsburgh and skated there. "He is skating at home and going through some pretty vigorous workouts on the ice," Bylsma said. Letang could return to practice soon. ... The team's other injured players are center Jordan Staal (knee) and defenseman Simon Despres (knee). ... Tampa Bay's seventh loss in a row is its longest skid since it went 0-7-2 to close out the 2008-09 season.



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