Penguins Notebook: Malkin says right foot OK after late-game stumble
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin battles for position with Hurricanes defenseman Jamie McBain. Carolina captain Eric Staal is in the rear.
Share with others:
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was having a strong first game back from injury when he stumbled in overtime, fell into the boards and ended up aggravating his sore right foot.
"I lost my balance and hit the boards," Malkin said Saturday after his team fell, 3-2, to Carolina at Mellon Arena "It's a little bit sore. It's a little bit of bad luck, but it's OK."
Malkin iced the foot after the game. He expects to sit out the team's practice today but likes his chances of being able to play Monday at Detroit -- the Penguins' first trip to Joe Louis Arena since June 12 when they won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Malkin was perhaps the Penguins' strongest skater against Carolina. He had one goal and seven shots.
The goal came off an effective cycle with his linemates, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko, something the team spent time working on in practice a day earlier.
Malkin had missed two games since he took a shot by teammate Kris Letang off the area just below the ankle bone last Sunday late in the second period of a 2-1 win at Tampa Bay.
With no problems after skating in the pregame warmup Saturday, he returned to the lineup.
"I felt good," Malkin said. "My foot was stronger, and I played a stronger game."
Until that little setback in overtime.
The Penguins missed out on what winger Tyler Kennedy thought should have been a goal at 3:43 of the second period with Carolina leading, 1-0.
Kennedy was the last member of his line to get onto the ice during a change, and he saw defenseman Sergei Gonchar get the puck in the Penguins' end. He snuck behind the Hurricanes' defense.
"When I see [Gonchar] open, I try and get out there and get behind the [defense] because I know what's coming," Kennedy said.
Gonchar, from just beyond the far blue line, hit Kennedy at the Carolina blue line with a perfect pass, springing Kennedy for a breakaway through the right circle. Manny Legace stopped Kennedy's pass, but the puck came to rest behind the goaltender.
Kennedy reached behind Legace and poked the puck into the net, but it was ruled that play had been stopped before that.
"The puck was behind him," Kennedy said. "I don't know why he blew the whistle. I thought it was going to be a goal. I thought you play until you don't see a puck."
Because of a wretched start based at least in part on a run of injuries to key players, Carolina started Saturday in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot.
Coach Paul Maurice unleashed a telling statistic about the improved play of his team after that start.
"I think since Dec. 1, we have as many points as Pittsburgh does," he said.
That was true going into the game. Afterward, the Hurricanes had 53 points since the start of December, the Penguins 52.
Although No. 1 goaltender Cam Ward and regular defenseman Tim Gleason remain out, Carolina has been relatively healthy the past few months, and it has played more like the club that advanced to the Eastern Conference final last season before falling to the Penguins.
"We've just had a wicked run of injuries," Maurice said as his club reached 262 man-games lost. "I'm very, very pleased with the heart our team has shown to stay in this fight."
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 26 shots: "He was really solid for us. It's just a bad break on the last [goal]. He certainly deserved better." ... With Malkin back, the Penguins scratched two healthy forwards, Max Talbot and Eric Godard.