Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Malkin Looks to Put End to Long Scoring Drought

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Malkin Looks to Put End to Long Scoring Drought

Article excerpt

The Penguins firmly believe superstar Evgeni Malkin is on the verge of breaking out.

Malkin, their talented Russian center, has been held without a goal for 13 consecutive regular-season and playoff games, and is without a point in his past five.

If he is inches away from ending his scoring slump, the Penguins could badly use it to even their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers tonight at Consol Energy Center.

"I knew he was going to have a good game [Monday] and I thought at times he really showed it. But he's just on the verge of breaking through," said coach Mike Johnston. "When you look at scoring chances at the end of the game, he was in on quite a few."

Malkin's performance seemed to kick into a higher gear late in the third period when his line generated several key chances but came up short in a 2-1 loss.

So far, Malkin has registered four shots on goal, two each in Game 1 and 2 and none on goal in Game 3. Those numbers must rise, Johnston said.

"We talk about shots. There were also blocked shots and missed shots, and he's had a few of those," said Johnston. "He still has to direct more pucks to the net for me. He's a three- or four-shot guy a night, and that's what he has to be on a regular basis. As far as handling the puck, getting in on chances, doing a good job in our zone, I think he's been progressing every single game."

Malkin spoke at length from his locker stall after practice Tuesday at Consol Energy Center and said he can only stay optimistic and work harder.

"I know I'm not happy with my game right now, but I am focused [for the] next game," he said. "[The] series is not over, you know. We can [come] back, and I can change my game a little bit better. I'm staying positive. We have lots of games."

Fair enough.

Asked what his line needs to do differently in order to score, he replied: "We need to play a whole 60 minutes. …

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