Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin put on a show for the ages through the first two games of the series. The showdown of the two superstars has been the hype of the playoffs and while Ovechkin, and Crosby have answered the hype, NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin was a non-factor in game 1 and game 2 .
The wait for Evgeni Malkin is now over. Malkin (1 goal, 9 shots on goal, 29:38) answered the bell in game 3 putting on a phenomenal performance, scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period in what appeared to be the game winner before Niklas Backstrom tied the game at 2-2 with less than two minutes remaining in the third.
Malkin was a dominant force at both ends of the ice and as he did during the regular season, when Malkin plays at the level he did in Game 3, he is among the top 3 or 4 players in the game.
For Pittsburgh, if the Evgeni Malkin of Game 3 shows up for the rest of the series, the Penguins will be advancing to their second consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.
Capitals passive in loss
The Washington Capitals were outshot by the Penguins 42-23 in Game 3 and they were very passive, sitting back and letting the Penguins carry the play.
The Capitals tried to clog the neutral zone and create chances off of the Penguins turnovers. Look for the Capitals to play much more aggressive in Game 4.
Guerin provides much needed presence in front of the net
Forward Bill Guerin did not make the scoresheet in Game 2 but he played a
pivotal role on Evgeni Malkin’s third period goal and Kris Letang’s OT winner. Guerin provided a screen in front of the net on both goals and while Guerin only has two goals in the playoffs, he is having a tremendous impact on games such as winning battles in the corners and providing a presence in front of the net.
Ruslan Fedotenko earning a new contract?
Ruslan Fedotenko is the Penguins only top 6 winger who has scored an even strength goal in the playoffs and his performance in the playoffs may earn him a new contract with the Penguins.
Fedotenko is doing the little things very well right now and did a phenomenal job in Game 3 on getting the puck out of the zone off the breakout.
He’s never going to be the goal scorer the Penguins need from a winger on Evgeni Malkin’s line, but I’m told management has changed their stance regarding Fedotenko since early March.
Although it will come down to the right price that favors the Penguins, the front office is much more comfortable offering a two year contract than they were say a month ago.
Dan Bylsma has been very secretive in his lineup during morning skates in the playoffs. Wednesday morning there were no line changes from game 2 as Petr Sykora skated with Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot centered the 4th line.
In Game 3, Talbot was moved up to the second line and Miroslav Satan replaced Petr Sykora in the lineup.
Miroslav Satan played under 8:00 minutes but he made things happen and earned himself a spot in the lineup for game 4.
Petr Sykora is not speaking to the media but we’re told he was very surprised he was going to be scratched after skating with the Penguins second line in the morning skate. Sykora found out around 6:00 p.m. when Mike Yeo posted the lines for the pregame warm-ups.
The Penguins will hold an optional skate on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. 7 to 8 players are expected to dress. The practice will be open to the public at SouthPointe. The Penguins will be holding some kind of press conference on Thursday according to an employee with the team.
The Capitals have cancelled their practice which was scheduled at SouthPointe following the Penguins optional skate.
The Washington Capitals were dinning at Morton’s Steakhouse in Pittsburgh Tuesday night. While there is a growing notion that Alexander Ovechkin is unprofessional off the ice, I’m told from a waiter at Morton’s, that Alexander Ovechkin was very arrogant and he tripped on the carpet coming into the door.