Evgeni Malkin is full speed ahead to start the 2015-16 season with no sign of stopping.
Highlighted by a game-winning power-play goal in overtime against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday evening at CONSOL Energy Center, Malkin already has three goals and five points in six games to pace the team. That includes a three-game goal-scoring streak.
But his dominance is just business as usual.
“I’m just playing my game,” he said. “No changes.”
The Pens know what Malkin can do when he’s playing his game: two NHL scoring titles; one NHL MVP; and one NHL playoff MVP.
“I would say last year 90 percent of the time he had that same jump and energy,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “When he’s playing like that, he’s a hard guy to stop.”
“He’s a dominant player,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “It’s the player that we expect him be.”
Malkin’s game has jump-started the Penguins’ offense and three-game winning streak. The 29-year-old center has found the back of the net in every win so far this season. He’d love to share the wealth with his linemates Patric Hornqvist and David Perron.
“If I have a chance to score I’ll try,” Malkin said. “But we try to score with three guys. We have a lot of good chances. I hope (Thursday) we score a couple goals.”
Malkin was a key contributor to the Pens’ power play against Florida, which went 2-for-3 to snap a 17-opportunity drought. He made a beautiful cross-ice pass to Sidney Crosby, who scored on a one-timer. Then in overtime Malkin teed up the game-winner on the man-advantage for the victory.
Malkin hopes the Pens can build off that performance moving forward.
“We have a dangerous power play and we need to score,” he said. “Some games we have five or six power plays. It’s a good moment to score.”
The Pens power play won them the contest against the Panthers. While a win is a win no matter what, Malkin enjoys playing in tight games.
“I like to play tight games. It’s more interesting,” he said. “When you lead 5-0 it’s not interesting. When it’s a tight game, it’s more focused.
“(Tuesday) we lead 2-0. Then it’s 2-2. We came back and tried to focus to win. We talked on the bench. It’s exciting. It’s so tight.”
Of course a 5-0 victory wouldn’t be so bad either.
“Yeah,” Malkin laughed. “Sometimes.”