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Penguins star Malkin picks fine time for goal

MONTREAL — As predicted, Evgeni Malkin answered the Bell.

After going four games without a goal, Malkin scored early in the third period of the Penguins' 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at Bell Centre.

Malkin lived up to his post-Game 2 prediction in the process.

After the 3-1 loss Sunday at Mellon Arena, the Penguins center addressed his goal-scoring drought with a casual confidence.

"I know I'm not scoring," Malkin said. "People are a little bit, maybe, mad. It's OK. It's not bad. We'll go to Montreal, and I think we'll win the next game, and my game will be better (by) 100 percent."

Then he answered his critics.

The Penguins drew a power play when Montreal defenseman Hal Gill was called for holding with 11.7 seconds remaining in the second period. But Malkin missed a point-blank shot from the slot with 2.6 seconds left.

The Penguins started the third frame with a man-advantage, and Malkin fired a one-timer from the right point off a perfect feed from Sergei Gonchar at 1:16 of the third for a 1-0 lead in a game defined by its tight play.

It was Malkin's fifth goal of the postseason — his fourth on a power play, where he has become a dangerous triggerman from the point. He had only managed four shots in the series entering Game 3, however, as the Canadiens clogged the shooting lanes and blocked shots with frequency.

Given Malkin's playoff history, it should come as no surprise.

A year ago, he had gone five games without a goal when he delivered the first dagger in Game 3 of a second-round series against the Washington Capitals. The Penguins went on to win the series, then the Stanley Cup championship, as Malkin scored 14 goals and 36 points to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.

Malkin's timing couldn't have been better, considering that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby hasn't scored a goal in the series and has gone eight consecutive games without scoring a goal at Bell Centre, dating to the second game here in his rookie season in 2006.

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