Sens' Gonchar, Pens' Malkin together again
Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar was always as much a big brother to center Evgeni Malkin as a teammate during their four seasons with the Penguins. Gonchar is in his second season with Ottawa, but the bond remains.
The Russians spent Thanksgiving together — Malkin's girlfriend did the cooking — and Gonchar sounded proud of Malkin's progress since injuring his knee in February. They worked out together in Russia during the summer.
"To me," Gonchar said, "it seems like he is making that next step and maturing. He is more serious about his job. Last year, he didn't have a successful season like everyone expected him to have, so obviously, he was hoping to play better."
Malkin's workout regimen, which was detailed on the Penguins' website, wasn't necessarily for Gonchar.
"I was on a different program," he said.
But Malkin's hard work did not go unnoticed by his countryman.
"He was mentally ready for it," Gonchar said. "He was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he was ready for the season."
> > In keeping with the theme of fraternization between the Penguins and Senators, Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek hosted his brother, Senators left wing Milan Michalek, for a Thanksgiving feast.
> > Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury got the start Friday in something of a surprise. The Penguins play again Saturday night in Montreal, and backup goalie Brent Johnson's career numbers against Ottawa (8-1, 1.99 GAA) are impressive. Fleury entered the game with a 6-8-1 record against Ottawa and a 3.64 GAA, which is his second worst total against any NHL team.
> > Defenseman Kris Letang and left wing Chris Kunitz, both of whom missed practice Thursday, were able to play against the Senators.
> > Penguins equipment manager Dana Heinze was honored during the game for overseeing his 1,500th professional hockey game.
> > G Marc-Andre Fleury was awarded an assist in the first period on RW Tyler Kennedy's goal.
Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators November 25, 2011
The Penguins defeat Ottawa, 6-3, at Consol Energy Center.