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Malkin Scorches Islanders with Fifth Career Hat Trick

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins

After Tuesday’s 6-4 victory against the New York Islanders, Penguins’ fans can finally forget about Evgeni Malkin’s recent scoring dry spell.

Malkin attained his fifth career hat trick against the Islanders, his second hat trick of the season, and obtained all three goals on the power play. The center also picked up a total of four goals in the past two games, including one against the Vancouver Canucks in last Saturday’s game.

“I had a tough stretch,” Malkin said. “I worked every day and tried to help the team to get better and play in the defensive zone.”

Prior to the Vancouver game, Malkin had not scored since posting his first hat trick of the year against Ottawa on Dec. 23, 2009. The Russian superstar broke out in a big way against New York.

Malkin riffled two one-timers into the net and added an empty-netter in the closing seconds of the game to clinch the hat trick and seal the win for Pittsburgh.

Not surprisingly, fellow center Sidney Crosby was also impressed by Malkin’s determined attitude and fierce playing.

“He played well,” he said. “He fired the puck on those two goals there. It was a great example of his shot. He got into those areas and he was ready to let it go. Those are tough for the goalie to stop. He worked hard down low and when he got his chances to let it rip, he buried it.”

Amassing Four Power-Play Goals

Tuesday night’s win against the Islanders was full of surprises, including four impressive goals that the Penguins scored from their power play.

Throughout the game, Malkin and Bill Guerin each scored power-play goals – Malkin scored three power-play tallies, while Bill Guerin added one. Malkin’s second goal also broke a 4-4 tie and proved to be the game-winner.

“We came through at the right times for us,” Guerin said. “It was something that we have obviously been working on all year, but tonight it came through at a big time so we’re pretty happy with that.”

“Those nights are great for your power play’s confidence,” Crosby agreed. “We did a lot of different things to have success. We had great entries, we had good execution in the zone and we have to keep working on it.”

Johnson’s Solid Goaltending

With Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury out of the lineup, backup goaltender Brent Johnson stepped in and immediately made his presence known.

Throughout the game, Johnson made a total of 35 saves against the Islanders, including two shorthanded breakaways and a penalty shot from New York right wing Kyle Okposo – all in a 1:17-minute time span at a critical moment of the second period.

After Okposo made his first shot, Johnson said that he stayed with him and watched closely to figure out his shooting style. And, on his second breakaway, Okposo’s shot hit Johnson’s pad.

“He’s a nifty forward,” Johnson said of Okposo. “He can stickhandle in a phone booth. He’s pretty good. It was just one of those things. I got lucky on the first one – it hit my pad. I was going for the poke-check and then just tried to stay with him.”

And, although he has had major success with his goaltending in recent games, Johnson said that there are also multiple other positives to take out of Tuesday’s victory.

“There are definitely some things that every single one of us in here wants to get better at,” he said. “The main concern is the two points. We battled back hard after they tied it up. We battled back, and we got a good goal from Geno and a great play.”

Injury Update

Pascal Dupuis took a hard hit at the finale of the third period when the Islanders Andy Sutton rammed him from behind near the New York goal, causing Dupuis to smack his face off the boards.

“It’s scary,” Alex Goligoski said. “I didn’t see it at first. I looked over there and saw some blood, and obviously he was still down, so it was a scary thing. Sometimes a guy gets hit from behind, but I think he’s going to be alright.”

Dupuis was able to skate off on his own but covered his face with a towel.

“I do not have any info on Pascal,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He received a cut above the eye, but any long term effects other than the cut I don’t have word on that. Max, we’ll see tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s a long term injury. We’ll see how he is tomorrow morning with more observation.”  

Maxime Talbot also left the ice during the second period and did not return to the game.

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