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Penguins' Malkin bemoans 'bad luck' during goal drought

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin takes a shot during practice Friday, April 25, 2014, at Southpointe.

Geno through the years

Evgeni Malkin's career playoff stats:

Season GP G A P S/G*

2013-14 4 0 4 4 3.0

2013 15 4 12 16 4.5

2011-12 6 3 5 8 4.3

2009-10 13 5 6 11 4.5

2008-09 24 14 22 36 4.3

2007-08 20 10 12 22 3.8

2006-07 5 0 4 4 2

* — Shots per game

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, April 25, 2014, 9:03 p.m.
 

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin doesn't struggle setting goals for when he takes the ice.

Scoring goals, however, has been problematic, at least over Malkin's past eight playoff games.

“I come to (a) game and always I try to score,” Malkin said Friday after practice at Southpointe. “It's just bad luck maybe, I don't know. But every game I try my hardest and try to score.

“I know people start talking about my goals, but I try to score every game. It's my game.”

Malkin's and fellow franchise center Sidney Crosby's games have come under additional scrutiny because their collective goal total trails defenseman Brooks Orpik's by one.

The eight-game drought is a career-worst for Malkin, the playoff MVP five years ago when he compiled 36 points and 14 goals in 24 games.

Neither Malkin nor Crosby has a goal this series, and each has produced four assists. Only two of Malkin's assists have been primary assists, none since Game 1. His four points match his total in three regular-season games against Columbus.

The Penguins have 14 goals this series, which is 2-2 and resumes Saturday at Consol Energy Center. Yet only three of those markers have come from Malkin's linemates, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen.

“I feel good,” Malkin said. “My line, we (played well). We move (the) puck. The second period (in Game 4) we had lots of penalties.

“Sometimes we need to play simple.”

Malkin went without a shot during a 4-3 overtime loss Wednesday at Columbus. But that stat can be misleading, Malkin said.

“Two shots but (a) couple (of) shots blocked,” Malkin said. “It's hard because Columbus is (a) tough team. Every team … it's playoffs. We talk about us, but it's Columbus. Tough battle. You play one-on-one. Sometimes you shoot, but (the) defensemen (block the shots). I'm trying. I know (the) puck (is) coming, and (it's) time to score goals.”

Malkin said the Penguins, who led 3-0 after the first period in Game 4, “played 20 minutes. I don't know why. Maybe (we thought it was going to be an) easy game, 3-0, and win this game. It's playoffs. We need to play 60 minutes.”

Malkin's shotless performance came two days after he seemed to find an extra gear in the third period of Game 3.

Malkamania and Bully Mode — fanspeak for Malkin asserting himself — seemingly had returned. Malkin pushed the puck. He made plays.

In that game, coach Dan Bylsma loved what he saw from Malkin on the bench: intensity, cheering, leadership.

Bylsma said Malkin has matured as a leader, so much so that it can temper a scoring drought such as the one he's experiencing now.

“He's a big emotional leader for our team,” Bylsma said. “I wish you could see him on the bench in Game 3. Not just what he did on the ice, but (he played) a big role in what he did with leadership on the bench.

“I expect that from him. These are tight situations. Game 5 is a pivotal game. I do expect to see that out of him.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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