Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin
was named NHL ‘First Star’ for the week ending March 26 today after leading all scorers last week with nine points (5G-4A) in four games.
Malkin, who currently holds a 10-point lead in the NHL scoring race over Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, 97-87, began the week by recording his fourth five-point game of the season against Winnipeg on March 20 with two goals and three assists.
Malkin’s big night made him the first NHL player to have four games of five or more points in a single season since Mario Lemieux (6 games) and Peter Forsberg (4) in 1995-96.
Malkin finished the week with a pair of goals against the Nashville Predators on March 22 and a two-point effort (1G-1G) against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.
Already an Art Ross Trophy winner in 2008-09, Malkin has been the catalyst for a Pittsburgh team that has gone 14-1-1 in its last 16 games. Malkin has totaled 14 goals and 26 points while notching at least one point in 13 of the 16 games. During this run he has upped his lead over Stamkos from three points to his current 10-point advantage.
Malkin’s personal success has helped vault the Penguins from sixth place in the Eastern Conference – 10 points behind the first-place New York Rangers – on Feb. 21 to within one point of the Rangers (101-100) in the race for the Atlantic Division title and No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Malkin, who leads the Penguins in goals (46), assists (51), points (97), rating (+18) and shots (314), is on the verge of becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to reach 100 points in three or more seasons (Mario Lemieux, 10; Sidney Crosby
, 4; Jaromir Jagr, 4).
With his next goal, Malkin will equal the career-high 47 tallies he posted in 2007-08. He is four goals away from becoming the ninth player in team history to reach the 50-goal plateau.
This is the league-high seventh time this season Malkin has been honored by the NHL. He was the ‘First Star’ for December and ‘Second Star’ of January. On four previous occasions he’s also garnered weekly NHL awards – ‘Second Star’ for the week ending Feb. 12; ‘First Star’ for the week ending Jan. 23; ‘Third Star’ for the week ending Jan. 15; and ‘Third Star’ for the week ending Dec. 18.