Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin celebrates 1,000th game and scores shootout winner against Flames
Before Wednesday’s home game against the Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins recognized superstar center Evgeni Malkin for recently playing his 1,000th game.
It was a celebration of a player who has meant so much to this franchise over the past 17 seasons.
And even at 36 years old, Malkin’s 17th season hasn’t been too bad considering he entered Wednesday as the team’s second-leading scorer with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in his first 19 matches of the campaign.
“His offseason (last summer), he worked really hard,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s as strong as he’s ever been. He came into camp in the same shape he’s been in the eight seasons I’ve been here. He’s a proud guy and he wants to show people and himself that he has an elite game.
“He’s shown that in this early part of the season here.”
Wednesday, the 1,001st game of Malkin’s dazzling career, showed he still has considerable influence over his team’s fortunes.
Scoring the decisive goal in a penalty shootout, Malkin helped his team claim a hard-fought 2-1 victory that extended the team’s winning streak to a season-best four games. After scoring the game-winning goal, Malkin tossed his stick into the crowd and offered a memento for a fan to thank on Thanksgiving Eve.
Forwards Rickard Rakell and Sidney Crosby also scored in the shootout.
Goaltender Tristan Jarry was stout as he made 33 saves on 34 shots in regulation and then in overtime denied two of the four shots he faced in the shootout. The result improved their record to 7-3-2.
Flames goaltender Dan Vladar was stout, stopping 38 of 39 shots in regulation and overtime as his record fell to 1-3-1.
An unlikely source gave the Penguins a lead 2:09 into regulation when third baseman Jan Rutta scored his third goal of the season.
Claiming a loose puck from a scrum between the benches, Penguins forward Jeff Carter scooped it up ice and won the offensive zone near the midpoint. Facing resistance from Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, Carter unloaded the puck with a drop pass to Rutta at the end. With an acre of ice and a calendar of time to mull over his options, Rutta snapped a dagger from a pusher that burned Vladar’s blocker. Carter and fellow lineman Danton Heinen had assists.
The Penguins appeared to take a two-goal lead on a possible goal by forward Bryan Rust at 9:34 of the first period, but the Flames issued a coaching challenge based on the offside sequence and were successful .
A dominating shift in the offensive zone led to the Flames’ first goal at 8:37 of the second period.
After his team mentioned the Penguins with several shot attempts, Flames defenseman Dennis Gilbert settled for a failed cleanup attempt at the left point and fed it to his teammate at the right point, Chris Tanev. Looking for a moment to identify a shooting lane, Tanev grabbed and ripped a wristband toward the cage. Flames defenseman Dillon Dube settled into the slot and deflected the puck up the ice, causing it to bounce over Jarry’s left leg on the near side. Dube was credited with his third goal with assists from Tanev and Gilbert.
Vladar, a 6-foot-5 mass of long limbs and gear, killed several quality chances for the Penguins throughout the contest, perhaps none more so than a larceny denial of Rakell from less than 10 feet away in the slot at 11:47. of the second period. Blessed with a wonderful opportunity, Rakell had a pusher denied by Vladar’s bulky glove hand.
Note: Penguins forward Kasperi Kapanen and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel were healthy scratches.
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