Heading into last night, the Penguins were a respectable 10-7-0, but they weren’t scoring. Marc-Andre Fleury has been amazing, but the offense—headed by two of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and bolstered by the offseason addition of Phil Kessel—had been bloodless. Just 2.06 goals per game, above just three other teams in the league.
Following Saturday’s shutout at the hands of the Devils, Pittsburgh held a closed-door meeting. Speaking to reporters after, Malkin—the team’s leading scorer, but still on pace for the lowest points-per-game total of his career—tried to express the mood in the dressing room.
English is not Malkin’s first language, and it was on Crosby to retroactively sharpen Malkin’s word choice. (He meant “frustrated,” not mad.) Still, with coach Mike Johnston’s seat speculatively starting to heat up, some goals at home against the Wild would have made everybody feel a lot better.
Malkin made sure that happened, scoring two goals and notching two primary assists as the Penguins hung on to beat Minnesota 4-3. And Malkin’s second goal in particular was a hell of a thing:
Malkin corralled a Kessel pass behind him, pulled it up between his own legs, and easily slotted it past a helpless and screen Devan Dubnyk.
“That was pretty incredible,” Crosby said. “He was just dancing out there.”
A win is a win, and four goals are a hell of a lot better than the Pens’ typical two. This offense is too good to continue slumping, and Johnston will either find more efficient ways to deploy and use his players, or someone else will. But in the meantime, that Malkin goal is worth watching eight times in a row.