Evgeni Malkin was not ready. Sidney Crosby was. The Penguins needed goals from both of their scoring star centers to turn aside the New York Islanders, 4-3, on Friday night at Consol Energy Center. Crosby finished a feed from right winger Pascal Dupuis for his 12th goal — and No. 250 in the NHL — with 1 minute, 16 seconds remaining in regulation. Really, though, The Story was Malkin, who was at a career-worst 15 games without a goal. His regular right winger, James Neal, had predicted Friday morning that would end. The prophecy came true. “He gives me a lot of great passes day in and day out. He's always looking for me in games. It's not hard for me to pass one to him and get him going,” Neal said, referring to his decision to pass up a clean shot and feed the puck to Malkin, who was marked by an Islander near the front of the crease. Malkin, whose fourth goal of the season staked the Penguins a 3-1 lead in the second period, did not approve of Neal's decision to dish. “I (was) not ready,” Malkin said. “He surprised me.” Malkin has multiple points in four of five games and is now among the top 10 overall scorers with 24 points. Crosby is tops with 30, and he commended Malkin for contributing to the Penguins' recent run — 4-1-0 — even though more than a month had passed since Malkin's last goal Oct. 17. “For being a little frustrated, as anyone would, he's found ways to contribute, and that's what you need to do,” Crosby said. “That's something that can be overlooked, but it's not easy. He's done a great job of that.” The Penguins (15-8-0, 30 points) did not do a great job defensively against the Islanders (8-12-3, 19 points). Five previous opponents had averaged 21 shots, but Penguins backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff was forced to make 32 saves. He turned aside nine shots in the final period, which began tied because of two second-period goals from Islanders left winger Thomas Vanek. Those sandwiched a goal from right winger Colin McDonald to erase Penguins leads of 2-0 and 3-1. A blowout appeared imminent late in the first period, but a natural hat-trick goal by left winger Chris Kunitz was not counted because of a high-stick minor penalty assessed to Malkin. Still, Kunitz was credited for his 10th and 11th goals, both of which were scored on early power plays.
Late Crosby goal lifts Penguins past Islanders
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Nov 23