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Penguins

Three things we learned from Penguins-Capitals Game 4

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, May 4, 2018, 6:27 a.m.
Evgeni Malkin warms up prior to the start of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena.
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Evgeni Malkin warms up prior to the start of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Jake Guentzel celebrates his goal in the third period against the Capitals during game 4 of round 2 Stanley Cup Playoffs Tuesday, May 3, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jake Guentzel celebrates his goal in the third period against the Capitals during game 4 of round 2 Stanley Cup Playoffs Tuesday, May 3, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

Evgeni Malkin scored an ugly goal for the Penguins in Game 4 of the Metropolitan Division finals Thursday night.

He dove and poked in a rebound of his own shot to lead the Penguins to a 3-1 victory and a 2-2 series tie with the Washington Capitals. The play went through two long video reviews, one to determine if the puck crossed the goal line and another to decide if there was goaltender interference.

For artistic merit, the Canadian judge gave it a zero-point-zero.

What could have inspired Malkin to score such a greasy goal?

Perhaps it was the fact that his old linemate, Max Talbot, was in the building. He and Malkin chatted for a few minutes in the locker room after the game.

Malkin, fans will remember, used to like to give Talbot the business because he lacked the hands of a gifted goal scorer.

Malkin chuckled when it was suggested to him that his goal was an ode to his old pal, who just wrapped up his second season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL.

"I'm glad he's here," Malkin said. "He plays in Russia. We text each other sometimes. He texted me in Russian a couple times. It's so funny. He's an unbelievable guy.

"He's here today and we win. I hope he comes to next game, too."

Here are three things we learned from Game 4.

1. KEEPING IT EVEN

Jake Guentzel is rewriting the postseason records books. Evgeni Malkin scored a critical, if disputed, goal. Matt Murray bounced back from two straight losses with a solid 21-save showing.

There are plenty of names that can fill the headlines after Game 4, but all their individual heroics were made possible by one important development for the Penguins. With sound decision-making and good puck management, they kept Washington's odd-man rushes to a bare minimum.

"It's something we've been watching a lot of film on the last couple games," Sullivan said. "We've got to do what we can to make sure that we stay on the right side of the puck, we stay on the right side of people, we get above the attack, we have numbers tracking back, and we make good decisions with the puck in critical areas of the rink so that we don't give them those freebie opportunities."

2. FIGHT NIGHT

The bad blood between the Penguins and Capitals doesn't always have to bubble to the surface in the form of violent, brain-rattling checks to the head.

Sometimes, it can just be an old-fashioned fist fight.

Washington's T.J. Oshie threw a leaping hit into Penguins defenseman Kris Letang with the outcome more or less decided in the final minute of Game 4. Letang objected and they dropped the gloves and fought.

Both players seemed to take the altercation in stride afterwards.

"I saw a chance to hit him. He wasn't happy with it, so he stuck up for himself, which I can respect," Oshie said. "I don't think either of us got a really good grab of each other."

"They're desperate," Letang said. "He was trying to forecheck on me. The hit was a high hit, but at the end of the day, I don't think he went with his elbow to knock me out. It was just an emotional game. It was tight from the beginning to the end. It was just good emotion."

3. NO SHOT

They're the two greatest talents of their generation, and Thursday night, neither got a single shot on goal.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was held without a shot for the fifth time in 158 career playoff games. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin turned in his third shotless performance in 107 career playoff appearances.

It's a development that worked out better for the Penguins. Crosby had a pair of assists. Ovechkin went without a point and was a minus-1.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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