The leading scorer in the regular season, Evgeni Malkin
, emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the Penguins’ 3-2 overtime win against the Washington Capitals at the Mellon Arena on Wednesday night. He tallied a power-play goal, nine shots, two hits and a plus-1 rating in the contest. He also racked up a game-high 29:38 minutes.
“I think a game like this says a lot about a guy like Malkin,” Bill Guerin said. “You rebound from criticism, you rebound from maybe not playing your best and he was the difference maker tonight. In my eyes, that was as good as he has played. Malkin can always do the big things, it’s when he’s doing the little things, that’s what will set him part.”
Malkin, who hadn’t scored a goal in the first two games of the series, dominated throughout the game and was finally rewarded for his efforts with a power-play goal at the 15:01 mark of the third period.
“I had a good game tonight,” Malkin said. “I’m ready, and I feel good. I know I didn’t play too good the last two games and it was a big game tonight.”
Malkin turned and shot the puck from between the circles. Bill Guerin served as a screen to Simeon Varlamov so that Makin’s shot could surpass the young goaltender. All of Pittsburgh celebrated the goal as Malkin was finally rewarded on the scoreboard for his outstanding effort through three periods of play.
“Take it to another level, that’s exactly what Malkin did,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “These last few days he has taken a bit of heat but he has played well and unfortunately the puck just hasn’t gone in, but tonight I think he raised his game even more still. There are a lot of great things that he did over the past few games but to see one finally go in for him was great. It was a big game. He came to play and he raised his game.”
“In terms of Geno’s play tonight he was at another level,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was dominant with the puck, he had the one goal, which was fantastic, but he had other great opportunities. It was great to see him respond and get that goal. He played a great game and he deserves to get a point tonight. He got that goal, that was great to see.”Outshooting the Caps
The Penguins tested Varlamov throughout the contest, peppering him with 34 shots in regulation and an additional eight shots in the overtime period.
”We talked about Varlamov and how all series here he has been really good for them,” Orpik said. “So, we are just trying to get things on net. If you don’t take the shot it never goes in.
“(Tonight) we just took over the game in the second period. We were confident going into the overtime. We didn’t want to sit back at all. We wanted to stay aggressive and I think that’s what paid off in the end there. We just stuck with it here and that was huge.”
Despite Washington’s fluky goal early in the first period, the Penguins dominated play for much of the game, matching that Capitals at eight shots in the first period and then outshooting the Capitals, 15-4, in the second period, 11-6, in the third period and, 8-5, in the overtime period.
From the second period on, we did exactly what we needed to do. We generated tons of chances, and we could have scored a lot more, but Varlamov made some big saves. We had a lot of pucks laying around the net that we just didn’t put in but we stuck to what we needed to do and it was nice to see it pay off. - Sidney Crosby
“From the second period on, we did exactly what we needed to do,” Crosby said. “We generated tons of chances, and we could have scored a lot more, but Varlamov made some big saves. We had a lot of pucks laying around the net that we just didn’t put in but we stuck to what we needed to do and it was nice to see it pay off.
“It took us a while to get that first one but Fedotenko getting that first goal was huge. We got on a roll after that.”Up for the Challenge
Despite going into Game 3 down 2-0 in the series, the Penguins were confident because of their level of play in the first two games. That intense play certainly carried into Wednesday’s game.
“You’re forced to respond when you go down, 2-0, and you lose both (on the road),” Crosby said. “As a team, it’s tough for you to come home and do the same thing. Anytime you go down, 2-0, and you’re on the road you have to come home and respond so it’s good to get the win here tonight and we’re going to fight hard here in the next as well.
“It was desperation for us. We’re still in a similar position now but we knew this was a big game. Guys came to play, everyone from the goalie out. We battled hard and it would have been easy to get frustrated with the chances that we had not going in, but we stuck with things. We believed that we were actually going to get that break, and we did.”
Even as the game extended into overtime, the Penguins were confident in their level of play.
“We were walking through the dressing room after the third period and the guys were saying to themselves we just need to keep playing the same way,” Bylsma said. “We need to keep the pressure on in the offensive zone and not let up and if we keep playing that way we will tire them down and get our opportunities.”