Penguins center Evgeni Malkin granted the Tribune-Review an exclusive interview after a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden:

Q: Sidney Crosby had an assist and was a plus-3 in his return. Does he ever surprise you with his strong comeback games?

A: (It's) not surprising (for) me. I see how hard he works every practice, every day. Before, against the Islanders (Nov. 21, 2011), it was four points, and I thought he had two assists, so that was the only surprise to me.

Q: How much has Crosby's work ethic influenced you over the years?

A: I'm (a) lucky guy because when I (came) to Pittsburgh, I was surprised how Sid, who was the best player, worked so hard. It is every day. I had never worked liked that. I watched what Sid (did), and now I (have) started to do it, too. I think my level is up, too, because of that work.