Evgeni Malkin Makes Return; Was Out For 5 Weeks
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup got a big boost on Saturday with the announcement that Evgeni Malkin makes return. The former Art Ross and Hart trophy winner came back sooner than expected after missing more than a month with an upper body injury. The original prognosis was a timetable of 6-8 weeks, but Malkin came back in just five.
The Penguins were not only able to weather the storm without Malkin, but thrive down the stretch, finishing the regular season 13-2 as the hottest team in the league. As was expected, Geno had to knock off a little rust in his return, but he did log just under 19 minutes and posted an assist against the Rangers.
After Phil Kessel got the scoring started in the second period, the Rangers responded with three second period goals and another in the fourth to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Kessel added his second of the game on the power play in the third period, but it wasn’t enough as the Rangers walked out of the Consol Energy Center with the win and a 1-1 series tie to take the home ice advantage from Pittsburgh.
The Pens certainly need Malkin to be on his A game if they hope to advance to the second round. Though they entered the playoffs as the league’s hottest team, no one expected this matchup with the Rangers to be anything less than a dogfight between two bitter division rivals.
Malkin will surely need to play a large role from here on out. Despite missing 25 games this season, Malkin potted 27 goals and 58 points, good for fourth on the team behind Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Phil Kessel, all of whom played significantly more games. Now with the series shifting to New York, the Penguins will need their second best player to come up big.
A former Conn Smythe winner, as the playoffs most outstanding player, Malkin is no stranger to this stage. Pittsburgh fans are hoping he can assume the role of hero he’s played before and boost their chances of raising Lord Stanley’s Cup for the 4th time in franchise history.
(Evgeni Malkin Makes Return)