Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin thinks Malkin just needs to relax


Alexander Ovechkin has some advice for fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin — just keep working hard and the goals will start going in.

And whatever you do, don’t worry what people are saying.

Malkin, who scored 50 goals for Pittsburgh in 2011-12, is currently mired in a much-talked-about, 14-game goal drought. His Penguins are in Washington to play Ovechkin’s Capitals tonight (on NBCSN).

“When you [don’t] score goals, when you [don’t] make assists, when your name is [not] on the score [sheet], of course, everybody think like you’re bad,” Ovechkin said, per CSN Washington. “But sometimes you don’t have a great game but you get a point and everybody think you play well.

“Of course, it matters [what people think]. When I was a little kid, my first couple years, I know nobody here. I just read the front pages and the news and I was crazy about it.

“But right now, to be honest with you, I don’t care what the people say, what the media say. Of course, I read this kind of stuff, but most of the time I read it and forget it in a couple seconds.”

To be fair to Malkin, it’s not like his name is completely invisible on the scoresheet. He does have 12 assists in the 14 games he’s failed to put a puck in the net, and his 17 assists on the season rank fourth overall in the NHL, behind only Joe Thornton (20), Nicklas Backstrom (19), and Henrik Sedin (18). That’s not bad company right there.

But Malkin is more than a passer, and it needs to be noted he’s only registered 14 shots in his last eight games combined.

Or maybe it doesn’t need to be noted?

“He just have to relax and forget about it,” said Ovechkin.

Wild lose Graovac (groin) for 2-3 weeks

Tyler Graovac, Sam Reinhart,
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After making the Wild out of training camp, Tyler Graovac got some bad news on Tuesday — head coach Mike Yeo said Graovac would miss the next 2-3 weeks with a groin strain.

Graovac, 22, played just under 14 minutes in Minnesota’s crazy 5-4 comeback win over Colorado in the season-opener, but sat out Saturday’s win over St. Louis.

At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Graovac was a notable physical presence in the Wild lineup, and is an intriguing prospect — he impressed with AHL Iowa last year, scoring 21 goals and 46 points in 73 games.

Already without Eberle, the Oilers could also be missing Hall tonight

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.

Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.

The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.

Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.