PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Evgeni Malkin
returned to the lineup for the Penguins after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Malkin appeared slow and apprehensive at the start of the game, but with each passing minute his strides became more powerful and his speed increased.
By the end of the first period, Malkin looked comfortable and back his normal form. One thing that was certainly in good form was Malkin’s patented authoritative one-timer.
“I couldn’t play my game because I was a little tired on the shifts,” Malkin said of his play. “Next game I’ll play better.”
Malkin, who played alongside Sidney Crosby
and Pascal Dupuis
, scored two goals for the Penguins (both on the power play) in a 3-2 setback to Philadelphia that snapped Pittsburgh’s 12-game winning streak.
“It was a little tough to come back,” Malkin said. “The team won 12 games before and I was a little nervous before the game. I’ll try to play better and help my team.”
“He was good on the power play. He seemed to be skating pretty well out there,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I haven’t talked to him or gotten a report, but I think he was pain-free in terms of the injury. He had the two power-play goals, which was big for us. We needed those two goals to get back to even both times.”
Malkin got the Penguins on the board in the second period when he unloaded a one-time shot from the far circle that sailed over the shoulder of goaltender Brian Boucher.
Malkin tallied his second in the third period to tie the score at 2-2. With prior coincidental penalties, the Penguins had a four-on-three man-advantage. Malkin whipped a wrist shot from the midpoint that sneaked under Boucher’s pad.
The Penguins’ chase at history expired in Philadelphia. Pittsburgh entered the game riding a 12-game winning streak (tied for the eighth-best run in NHL history) and a 15-game unbeaten streak (14-0-1).
It’s been a while since the Penguins have been on the short end of the scoreboard. But the successful run didn’t dull the pain of losing.
“It doesn’t matter how many you win, losing is not where you want to be,” Bylsma said. “We’re disappointed. We certainly don’t want to have this happen again.”
“You never like losing,” Crosby said. “Just because we won 12 doesn’t change the feeling and it never will. You go out there and work hard. You have an objective in mind, to win the game. When you don’t it’s not a good feeling.”
The Penguins will quickly put this game behind them as division rival New York Rangers are sitting in Pittsburgh right now awaiting a Wednesday night showdown at CONSOL Energy Center.
Maybe the Penguins can start another winning streak.
“I hope, I hope,” Malkin said.
SID STILL STREAKING
The Penguins’ winning and unbeaten streaks may have ended in Philadelphia Tuesday night, but one streak is still alive.
With his second-period assist, Crosby tied a personal record and stretched his active scoring streak to 19 games. He has posted 38 points during his scoring streak with 20 goals and 18 assists.
Crosby’s 19-game scoring streak is the third longest in the NHL since the lockout with only Dany Heatley (22 games) and Paul Stastny (20) ahead of him. Crosby also tied himself for the third-longest scoring streak in Penguins’ history, with Hall of Fame player/co-owner/god incarnate Mario Lemieux recording 28- and 46-game streaks.
Crosby recorded a 19-game scoring streak from Oct. 6 to Nov. 17, 2007, posting 30 points (11G-19A).
KUNITZ DOUBTFUL FOR WEDNESDAY
The Penguins scratched winger Chris Kunitz
He skated at the team’s morning skate and took warmups, but wasn’t able to play.
Bylsma wasn’t optimistic that Kunitz will be ready Wednesday night to play against the Rangers.
“I wouldn’t say it’s very good,” Bylsma said of Kunitz’ chances of playing. “Probably not likely at this point and time, but hopefully it might happen.”RELATED: Aftermath: Penguins 3, Flyers 2 >>