Evgeni Malkin

Malkin named NHL’s first star for second straight week


Evgeni Malkin had himself a nice little November.

On Monday, the Pittsburgh center was named the NHL’s first star of the week for the second consecutive time, edging out Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall (second star) and Chicago’s Duncan Keith (third).

Malkin earned first star honors on the strength of nine points in four games — in which the Pens went 3-0-1 — and led all NHL skaters in scoring. Malkin notched one assist in a 4-3 OT loss to Boston, 2G-1A in a 6-5 shootout win over Toronto, one assist in a 3-0 win over Tampa and then exploded for 1G-3A in a 5-1 win over Florida. As a result, Malkin now leads the NHL in assists (28) and sits second with 35 points, trailing Pittsburgh teammate and captain Sidney Crosby.

Second star went to Kronwall, who registered three multi-point games as the Detroit went undefeated last week. The Swedish rearguard went for 1G-1A against Boston and notched two assists against both the Islanders and Senators, and now has nine points over his last six games and a five-game assist streak. Overall, Kronwall sits fourth among NHL defensemen with 21 points through 26 games this year.

Third star went to Keith, who tied Malkin for the league lead with six assists last week. His production helped the ‘Hawks win four straight, closing out their annual Circus Trip in style by finishing the lengthy road swing atop the NHL standings. Keith recorded at least one helper in wins over Edmonton, Calgary, Dallas and Phoenix and now leads all NHL defensemen in assists, with 23. Last week’s scoring bonanza also moved him past Kronwall into second on the NHL defenseman scoring list — Keith now has 24 points in 28 games this year, trailing only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (27 points).

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta


The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals


The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2


In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.