Malkin Lifts Penguins Past Capitals

Monday, February 19th 2007, 6:24 am
By: News On 6

Facing fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin gives Evgeni Malkin a little extra motivation. Maybe it helped Sunday, when Malkin made the difference for Pittsburgh against Ovechkin's Capitals.

Malkin scored a bad-angle goal to give the Penguins the lead against Washington, and the streaking Penguins won their sixth in a row with a 3-2 victory over Washington.

``Yeah, of course, I'm enjoy playing against him especially when we win the games _ and he's getting pretty mad,'' said Malkin, speaking through an interpreter.

The Penguins have gained at least a point in 16 consecutive games, going 14-0-2 _ their longest run since they won a league-record 17 in a row and tied one to end the 1992-93 season. The surprise is that NHL scoring-leader Sidney Crosby, who has 91 points, is slumping with only one goal in 10 games for Pittsburgh.

Malkin, the No. 2 pick in the 2004 NHL draft behind Ovechkin, has keyed the Penguins' first playoff run since 2001 with 10 goals and 16 assists in the last 17 games.

``They're very competitive, good hockey players and good friends so there's definitely a little bit of something with him,'' the Penguins' Mark Recchi said after his team improved to 3-0 against the Capitals this season.

In the other NHL games Sunday, it was: Dallas 5, San Jose 2; the New York Rangers 2, Chicago 1; St. Louis 5, Minnesota 3; Montreal 3, Columbus 2; Los Angeles 4, Anaheim 3 in a shootout; and Vancouver 5, Colorado 4.

With the score tied at 1 late in the second period, Malkin carried the puck out from behind the Capitals' net and fed it up the right wing boards to Sergei Gonchar. Malkin then took Gonchar's giveback pass and, from along the goal line, one-timed a perfectly placed left-handed shot inside the far post, almost before Washington backup goalie Brent Johnson could react.

The goal reminded Recchi of some of those scored by former Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux.

``With his size and his hands, Geno looks like him,'' Recchi said. ``Mario was one of those guys who can score from that angle, and only a few guys can. A lot of guys don't even try that.''

The Capitals have lost three in a row and nine of 12, scoring two or fewer goals in all but three of those 12. Ovechkin, who didn't have a point, was leading the NHL in goals before being held to one goal and one assist in his last seven games.

``When Ovechkin gets only one goal in seven games, it's tough to win,'' Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. ``Don't mistake that _ it's not his fault we're not winning. But if you're asking where the offense has gone, he's a big part of that.''

Penguins backup goalie Jocelyn Thibault, making his first start since Jan. 27, stopped 29 shots for his third victory this season. Recchi and Maxime Talbot added goals for the Penguins. Recchi got his 20th goal, giving him 15 seasons with 20 or more goals.

Richard Zednik and Alexander Semin scored for Washington.

Semin could have tightened the game by scoring on his penalty shot with about 6 minutes remaining, but his shot hit the crossbar after Thibault tried pushing the puck off his stick as Semin went to his backhand.

Stars 5, Sharks 2

Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen each scored two goals, Darryl Sydor added three assists and Marty Turco made 17 saves to lead host Dallas.

Stu Barnes also scored for the Stars, who improved to 9-3-1 in their last 13 games.

After consecutive shutouts, the Sharks ended their team-record scoreless streak at 190 minutes, 22 seconds on Mark Bell's power-play deflection at 1:52 of the third period. Mike Grier also scored for the Sharks and Evgeni Nabokov had 16 saves for San Jose, which lost its third straight.

Rangers 2, Blackhawks 1

Martin Straka and Marcel Hossa scored 10 minutes apart in the first period and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots for New York.

Martin Havlat scored late in the second period for Chicago in its first trip to Madison Square Garden since a win on Dec. 11, 2002.

Blues 5, Wild 3

Rookie David Backes scored twice and Jay McClement had a goal and an assist to help host St. Louis win its third straight.

After Marian Gaborik tied the score at 2 with 1.8 seconds left in the opening period, the Blues pulled away with three goals in the second. Jamal Mayers opened the scoring with a short-handed goal in the first period, Keith Tkachuk also scored and Manny Legace made 33 saves for St. Louis.

Adam Hall and Pavol Demitra scored for the Wild, who had won eight of their previous 10 road games.

Canadiens 3, Blue Jackets 2

Michael Ryder and Saku Koivu each had a goal and an assist as visiting Montreal snapped a season-worst six-game losing streak.

Francis Bouillon also scored for the Canadiens, who moved into a tie with Toronto for the eighth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Nikolai Zherdev and Gilbert Brule scored in a span of 3:03 midway through the third for the Blue Jackets, losers of six of their last eight.

Kings 4, Ducks 3, SO

Lubomir Visnovsky scored in the sixth round of a shootout lift visiting Los Angeles.

Visnovsky scored his 15th goal in regulation and Michael Cammalleri had a goal and two assists, and Derek Armstrong also scored for the Kings _ who lost in a shootout at home against Anaheim the previous night.

Teemu Selanne had a goal _ his club-record 301st with the Ducks _ and two assists in the rematch. Chris Kunitz and Ryan Getzlaf also score for Anaheim.

Canucks 5, Avalanche 4

Henrik Sedin scored the tiebreaking goal 1:31 into the third period, Brendan Morrison added his second of the game 2:20 later, and host Vancouver beat Colorado.

Matt Cooke matched a career high with a goal and two assists, and Daniel Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who have won four straight games to move two points ahead of Calgary atop the Northwest Division.

Andrew Brunette scored twice, Brad Richardson added a short-handed goal and Ian Laperriere also scored for the Avalanche.