From Russia with Love: Malkin Leads Penguins Assault – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

From Russia with Love: Malkin Leads Penguins Assault

Maybe my title—lifted from an old James Bond flick—isn’t politically correct. Especially given the heightened intrigue and tension present between east and west in our world today. But it sure was nice to see Evgeni Malkin back in the Penguins’ lineup last night.

Like a giant Sukhoi Superjet swooping in from Moscow’s Sheremetyovo International, “Geno” blanketed the PPG Paints Arena ice, banging in the all-important first goal off a hard feed by Olli Maatta and setting up Phil Kessel’s third-period kill shot on a 2-on-1 with a spectacular sleight of hand.


A vintage effort that harkened back to his MVP season of 2011-12, when No. 71 dominated the sport like few others.

“You watch him play,” said Kessel in admiration. “He’s a special player. That’s why he’s one of the top players in the game…you watch what he does out there, he’s special.”

Malkin had help. Indeed, it required a total team effort to sink the determined but ultimately outgunned Vancouver Canucks by a 4-0 count.

Star No. 2 Matt Murray, razor sharp, stopped 29 shots to record his third shutout of the season. Technically still a rookie, Murray thwarted back-to-back chances by Chris Tanev and Reid Boucher midway through the opening period and robbed Jack Skille with a nifty glove save early in the second on a clear-cut breakaway.

“Murr really saved us,” said Maatta.

Sidney Crosby and linemates Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist hounded the visitors to the tune of 15 shots on goal. Executing a textbook give and go with Crosby, Guentzel netted his sixth goal of the season at 2:27 of the final period off a beautiful return pass from Sid. The latter’s 999th career point.

“Sid’s line, although I don’t think they’ve gotten rewarded on the score sheet the last few games for what they’re doing out there, they’ve created a lot of opportunities,” observed Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “We’ve really liked the line and what it’s been generating offensively.”

The defense stood tall, too. Kris Letang unleashed four shots and assisted on Matt Cullen’s third-period marker. Maatta, tentative and unsure for much of the campaign, played his finest game in recent memory, flashing his old confidence and poise. Not to mention a surprising physical edge.

The victory enabled the Pens to stay one step ahead of Friday night’s foe, Columbus, and the streaking Rangers, winners of six in row, in the race for second place in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division.

It all started with the big fella.

“It was a good win for us,” said Malkin.

Ice Chips

The Penguins won 59 percent of the faceoffs last night, marking the second straight game of improvement. The black and gold won 57 percent of the draws during last Saturday’s overtime loss to the Coyotes.

Malkin bumped Eric Fehr to the press box. Carter Rowney filled Fehr’s slot on the reconfigured fourth line between fellow call-up Josh Archibald and Tom Kuhnhackl.

In other hockey news, the Montreal Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien yesterday. The former Pens skipper guided the Habs to 194-121-37 record in his second stint as Canadiens coach, including a 50-win season in 2014-15.

He was replaced by Claude Julien, recently dismissed by Boston. Julien also succeeded Therrien in Montreal back in 2002-03.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    February 15, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,
    Last night the Jets beat the Stars 5 to 2. Rookie sensation Patrik Laine scored his 24,th, 25th, and 26 th goals, 47 points in all playing in only 51 games.
    He is listed at 6’5″ and 206 pounds. He does not turn 19 until late April.
    The Leafs beat the Islanders 7 to 1 as Auston Matthews scored his rookie leading 26th and 27 th goals last night,46 points in all playing in 55 games.
    He is listed at 6’3″ and 218 pounds. The other all star rookie Leaf forward,Mitch Marner leads the team with 15 goals and 33 assists for 48 points. He is listed at 6′ and 175 pounds. ( Jake G. size.)
    Buffalo beat New Jersey 3 to 2. Jack Eichel, in only 36 games has 30 points for the Sabres. He is listed at 6’2″ and 198 pounds.He has changed the way that team plays when he is healthy.He is a force indeed.
    Edmonton beat Arizona 5 to 2. Mc David,had 2 assists and leads all NHL players with 63 points.
    The reason I mention this Rick, is when over looking the NHL. com, scores from last night I realized that these young stars are changing our game before our very eyes. I could have mentioned 5 or 6 other first and second year players who are having Team changing affects as well.Across the entire NHL.
    So when players like Matt Murray, who really have only been in the league since November 2016, we must all remember he is still only a Rookie and yet he carries the weight of our entire team on his back almost effortlessly.
    It seems like only yesterday when Crosby first stepped onto the ice 12 years ago and he too raised the expectations of everyone around him and then went on to deliver us our 3 Cup. You may not like Crosby if you are not a Pen’s fan,but next to Mario and Jagr, nobody has done what he has in a Pen’s uniform !
    History may be repeating itself my friend. Very soon !
    Good article Rick.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      February 15, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Okay Jim,

      Matthews, Laine, and Marner are all having good season let’s not mistake that. Hiwever, they are not having Corsby or Malkin like Rookie seasons let alone Mario like rookie season (Matthews opening game heroics not withstanding)

      My question, does Murray get any real consideration for the Calder? Goalies tend to get overlooked but let’s face it, as good as Matthews et al are, Murray may be proving the most dominant of all rookies this year, even though he doesn’t ever really seem to be sweating it,

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        February 15, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Hi Coach,
        Matt Murray if he continues to play as he has and he continues to carry the Team when needed….yes he should be seriously considered for the Calder.
        As you know there has always been the debate over being the best Rookie in the league statistically versus the best Rookie to help your team to win.
        ( making your team better). I personally believe
        that Murray with his calming influence actually makes the Pen’s a better team,which led us to the 2016 Championship and thus his selection for the Calder should be considered because he is continuing his outstanding play in 2017.
        My opinion anyway.

  2. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    February 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    So what you are saying then is that Geno shook not stirred the Canucks last night? Sorry couldn’t help that/

    Maybe the Hockey writers or whoever created that top 100 hockey players list have done more for the Pens than anyone else. For most of this season Malkin has been tearing it up for 200 feet of ice, like he did during his first Cup win and his MVP season. And what is most impressive he is doing it while usually skating with unproven wingers.

    And what about Murray. What a goalie he is. If any other goalie, all the way up to Brodeur would have stop 29 shots in a shutout the media, all media, local and national, would have been all over that hailing the performance, particularly with glove saves like the one he used to rob that break away on. However, for Murray, his calm way of making the spectacular look routine, as well as his unassuming personality, he only gets 2nd star of the game and several talking heads talking about how he wasn’t tested that much; 29 shots several of which were break aways and odd man breaks, not tested much?

    The road to the Cup is a long one still, especially when that road no doubt will be block by at least 2 of the following; Columbus, Washington, and NYR. I still would want to see an upgrade on D before March.

    Welcome Back Geno, agent 00 71

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 15, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Da, comrade … 🙂

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      February 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Hey Coach, fyi…
      With regards to Murray, may I suggest you go to Scores NHL.com, then click the stats link, then scroll down to trending,click Wins ( you see Jake Allen,)
      That brings up a most telling table of statistics about Goalies.

      1. Henrik Lundqvist 4 wins in a row, GAA 2.25 239.47 Time on Ice
      2. Jake Allen 3 wins GAA 1 180.20 TOI
      3. Devan Dubnyk 3 wins GAA 1,72 243.34 TOI
      4. Braden Holtby 3 wins GAA 2.34 179.40 TOI
      5. Brent Bishop 2 wins GAA .50 120.00 TOI
      6. MATT MURRAY 2 wins GAA .97 185.00 TOI
      If Murray had 3 wins in a row he would have been number 2 and pushed Allen to 3rd. Impressive stuff really.

      49.Marc- Andre Fleury GAA 3.77 63.40 TOI

      These are the NHL figures as of Feb 15 th, 6.30 ET… off of NHL .com !
      So Coach , you and I are in full agreement of MM and his abilities. I know this is a small sample size, but it illuminates the vast difference between our number 1 and number 1 A ! With exception of Brent Bishop, nobody played better than Matt Murray.
      Lets go Pens.
      * The Vancouver media feed had MM as star #1 and Geno as star # 2.


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