By Ron Cook
April 8, 2012
Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates his 50th goal of the season, in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Pittsburgh Saturday, April 7, 2012. (AP)
It turns out there was a good reason the Penguins' power play looked so putrid Saturday during a five-minute major penalty given to the Philadelphia Flyers' Zac Rinaldo for checking defenseman Zbynek Michalek from behind into the boards midway through the first period.
"We were killing ourselves looking for [Evgeni Malkin]," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Getting Malkin his 50th goal was the Penguins' No. 2 mission going into the game. No. 1 was getting out of it with everybody healthy against a team that likes to play it rough and tacitly had threatened violence against Penguins star Sidney Crosby earlier in the week.
The Penguins accomplished both goals in their 4-2 win.
They will start the playoffs against the Flyers this week with all hands on deck, including 50-goal scorer Malkin.
Does that have a nice ring to it or what?
"That's a huge number," Bylsma said.
Malkin didn't get No. 50 during that long early power play, but he did become the ninth player in Penguins' history to reach it when he took a drop pass from defenseman Kris Letang and blistered a shot by Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky at 19:48 of the second period for the game's final goal. Crosby is one of the other eight along with Jean Pronovost, Pierre Larouche, Rick Kehoe, Mike Bullard, Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens and Jaromir Jagr. Crosby, who scored 51 goals in the 2009-10 season, knows how hard it is to reach.
"When you get close to 50, the games start to go and start to narrow down," he said. "You obviously think about it. It's a great number. To do it coming off the injury that [Malkin] did makes it even more impressive. I think we're all really happy for him."
"Everybody is ecstatic," Bylsma said.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/ron-cook/cook-malkins-feats-thrill-team-630432/