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Penguins notebook: Bylsma sees signs of Malkin busting out

| Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, 7:45 p.m.

Center Evgeni Malkin led all NHL players with 339 shots last season and finished with a career-best 50 goals — the highlight of a 109-point campaign that netted him a second scoring title and league MVP honors.

Malkin is third among Penguins this season with 50 shots, and his three goals through 16 games would have him on pace for a career-low 15 in an 82-game season.

Malkin, who spent the lockout playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL, has not asserted himself as he did so well last season.

Still, coach Dan Bylsma has seen recent progress in the form of 10 scoring chances by Malkin over the Penguins' last three games, including seven at even strength.

Bylsma also knows from which spot on the ice Malkin is most dangerous.

“On the power play, you picture him shooting from the half-wall,” Bylsma said. “But the shot he took in Buffalo coming off the right wing on his off side, taking a shot in the hashmark area, with (Sabres goalie) Ryan Miller making a good glove save — that's where I see him being most dangerous 5-on-5.

“He's an all-around player, just not a shooter. You see him taking pucks to the net at different angles. But that shot right there is where I picture him scoring most of his goals from.”

Malkin was not available for comment after practice Tuesday.

• Malkin and Chris Kunitz benefited from a scoring change authorized by the NHL on Tuesday. Both players were credited with assists on a goal scored by center Sidney Crosby in the first period of the Penguins' 4-3 victory at Buffalo on Sunday.

• The Penguins returned to practice after an off-day Monday, and there were no lineup changes. Rookie left winger Beau Bennett practiced with center Brandon Sutter and right winger Tyler Kennedy because left winger Matt Cooke shared time with Malkin and right winger James Neal. “Giving the full minutes with Evgeni and Neal is not where we wanted to slot Beau right in,” Bylsma said. “What we've seen from Beau, whether it's in the second or third line — he's a high-end talent; won puck battles; and his play way from the puck has been excellent. He plays well defensively and well along the wall and boards.”

—Rob Rossi

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