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Malkin on Game 6: 'I need to score'

Penguins center has been shut out by Capitals in three straight games

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin doesn't need his coach or his teammates to say it for him. He knows what he's supposed to do, what the Pittsburgh Penguins need from him against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

"I need to score, get more points, help the team to win," Malkin said following the Penguins' 3-1 loss in Game 5 at Verizon Center on Saturday.

The Penguins, who lead the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series 3-2, have aspirations to close out the Capitals in Game 6 at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Their odds would increase if Malkin could get on the scoresheet.

Malkin has no points and nine shots on goal in the past three games after scoring a goal in Game 1 and getting an assist in Game 2.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm 1: Malkin goes top-shelf with backhand

"I think Geno is playing the game hard," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Malkin. "He's trying to play the game the right way. He's making good decisions with the puck. When he has opportunities to get inside, he's trying to get inside."

Malkin, though, has not been there enough and maybe that's why he's been shut out for three straight games. The Capitals deserve credit for that, probably more than Malkin's share of the blame.

"I think the Caps have done a really good job of keeping us to the outside," Penguins forward Eric Fehr, who is expected to play on Malkin's line again in Game 6, said.

A lot of the onus to keep Malkin on the outside has fallen on Washington center Jay Beagle, who has gone head to head against the Penguins' big center for most of the series.

"Everything is taking away time and space, when you have to go through small areas and you have to go through people," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "The biggest thing is you don't get yourself in position where you're reaching."

Malkin has the puck enough to make the Capitals reach for him. His possession metrics, based on 5-on-5 shot attempts (SAT), are among the best on the team.

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm4: Malkin blasts PPG by Lundqvist

Pittsburgh is attempting 55.3 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts when Malkin is on the ice versus 45.7 percent when he isn't, according to Malkin is a plus-13 in 5-on-5 shot attempts (68-55); the only Penguins' player better is Chris Kunitz (plus-26).

"When he wants to do something with the puck it seems like there's nobody that's going to stop him," Fehr said. "He's one of the strongest guys and he's really nifty with the puck. He can be a real difference maker for us. He can challenge their defenders one-on-one. He's one of the few guys in the League who can skill his way in or use his strength to get on the inside."

The Penguins will benefit if he can get there in Game 6. It might be enough for them to book their date with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

Nobody has to tell Malkin that.

"We've won two of the last three when he hasn't had a point," Penguins center Nick Bonino said. "Eventually the puck is going to go in for him, and when that happens it makes us better."

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