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From Russia, with goals! AO, Malkin shine Monday night

by Brian Compton /
Evgeni Malkin put on quite a show in front of the home fans and the ones watching on Versus.
Some random thoughts before half of Orange County camps out on Teemu Selanne’s front lawn:

Who’s The Boss? – Sorry, just prepping for Alyssa Milano’s arrival in Atlanta this weekend.
Anyway, Alexander Ovechkin continues to make Washington Capitals’ brass look extremely wise for locking up the Russian superstar for the next 13 years. The dynamic forward had a three-point night in a thrilling see-saw affair that saw the Caps earn a 6-5 shootout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

But the story of the night was the battle between Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin – the top two picks of the 2004 NHL Draft. Both scored twice and seemed primed to outshine the other.

“It really seems to be a battle between the two,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said.
As far as the Penguins are concerned, it was the type of game Malkin needs to play during the next month – roughly the length of time Sidney Crosby will be out with an ankle injury. Whether Malkin can do consistently what he did Monday remains to be seen, but No. 71 put on quite a show in front of the home fans and the ones watching on Versus.

“Yeah, we lost our best player and you can't really replace him,” Malkin said through an interpreter. “It’s not (only) me, everybody has to keep up with every game.”

With the win, Bruce Boudreau’s squad pulled even with the second-place Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division. Hard to believe that a team that seemed buried back in November is going to head into the All-Star Break right on the heels of the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.

Luckily, Ovechkin – along with Alexander Semin – came through in the shootout, while Malkin sat and watched the event. It was a scenario more puzzling than the elimination of the McRib.
“I thought it was a great show of two young superstars trying to be king of the hill,” Boudreau said.

Leader of the Pack – Shane Doan is not only leading by example off the ice, but he’s also one of the main reasons why the Phoenix Coyotes continue to prove they’re no fluke.

Doan picked up two more points in Monday’s 6-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres, as the Coyotes’ captain extended his point streak to 11 games. His solid performance helped Phoenix pull to within three points of the third-place San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division.
"(Doan)'s just taking the team on his shoulders right now, there's no question," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky. "He's playing probably better than I've ever seen him play."

So, what do you fans think? Are the Coyotes a playoff team? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Singing the Blues – You know things are going wrong when you out-shoot a team as badly as the St. Louis Blues did for 40 minutes against the Nashville Predators on Monday, and yet it was the latter who held a 5-2 lead.

It’s just the way things have been going lately for the struggling Blues, who dropped their fifth straight (0-4-1) in a 6-3 loss. St. Louis held Nashville – which has picked up points in nine of 11 games – to just 15 shots through the first two periods.

"We failed to execute in certain key situations," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "I thought that we did some solid things, but we can't give up that many goals on that few of shots."
Not to worry, Andy. Come Wednesday night, only Roberto Luongo will stand in your way of ending this slump. Sorry, I’ve never been very good at cheering people up.

Nothing To Write Home About – Maybe the New York Islanders would be better off falling behind at Nassau Coliseum?

Ted Nolan’s team gave up another multi-goal lead Monday, as the Carolina Hurricanes erased a 2-0 deficit in the third period en route to a 3-2 overtime victory on Long Island. The Isles also surrendered a two-goal lead Saturday night, as a 3-1 lead turned into a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Not even the returns of defensemen Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek could save the Islanders from losing their first game of the season, in 16 outings, when having the lead after the second period. The teams will meet again Tuesday night at the RBC Center.

“We should have won this game,” Witt said. “It seems the last couple of games, we’ve had leads and let them slip. It’s a bitter taste in our mouths. We sat back. If you want to be successful, you can not sit back. We’ve got to go back tomorrow and get a win. These points are huge.”

Back In Front – What can you say about Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s performance Monday night? Well, you can say it put the Minnesota Wild back in first place.

Bouchard factored in to each of the Wild’s tallies in their 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place – a victory that put Minnesota atop the Northwest Division with 57 points.
“It feels good to get a win in Vancouver,” Bouchard said. “We always have trouble (here). I think the team played a solid, all-around game. Everybody showed up tonight. It was a big win for us.”

Here’s a stat the Canucks can’t be happy about – with Monday’s loss, they fell to 0-17-1 when trailing after two periods.

Geez. Even Sylvester Stallone has come back a couple of times now.

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