Evgeni Malkin may not be an all-star, but he’s doing his best to prove otherwise.
Malkin recorded his second-career NHL hat trick Monday night on the day he found out he was not included on the Eastern Conference roster as a replacement for injured Dany Heatley.
“He’s definitely an all-star caliber player. We truly believe that he should be there. He proved it tonight,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “We’re disappointed for him that he’s not there. But, I am sure he’s going to have his share of all-star games in his career.”
Malkin’s three goals helped the Penguins beat the Rangers, 4-1, and climb into a tie for first in the Atlantic Division.
“We played a good game,” Malkin said through translator George Birman. “I don’t think about hat tricks. I just try to work hard every game. I want to give thanks to Sidney Crosby – he made two great passes and the third goal was just into an empty net. So I want to thank all my teammates.”
So, was Malkin, who was not voted into the all-star game as a starter or selected as a reserve, upset when he learned Boston’s Marc Savard would replace Heatley in Atlanta?
“Yeah, I am a little disappointed,” he said. “That just means I have to work harder in the future. Next time, I am going to try to make the all-star team for the first time.”
Malkin worked hard Monday night as he produced the hat trick in front of a national-television audience on Versus.
“It’s hard to say and judge by the one game. I had a very good game and another hat trick, but I also had games where I didn’t play that well,” he said. “So, being considered as an all-star has to be over a period of time and they are judging by many games.”
Still, the hat trick pushed Malkin’s points streak to six games. He has eights goals and three assists in that span. In addition, he has scored 12 times in the Penguins’ last 12 games.
“I don’t think about how many goals I am going to score,” he said. “I am just trying to help the team make the playoffs. That’s my first goal. I don’t think about the personal records.”