Friday, May 22, 2009


ABOVE: Evgeni Malkin was sharpshooting last night as he scored a hat trick and took the overall scoring lead in the NHL for the playoffs.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, spearheaded by their "Two-headed monster" of Crosby and Malkin, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their best of seven series against the Carolina Hurricanes last night in a 7-4 win before a delirious Pittsburgh crowd and countless thousands more camped outside in front of "Mario's T.V".

In the last ten years of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in nine of those years the team that had the top two combined scorers in the playoffs went on to win the Stanley Cup. Right now, Sidney Cosby and Evgeni Malkin are leading that race and looking like a good bet to have another shot at Lord Stanley's hardware.
After being shut down for the most part in game one, Crosby roared out of the starting gate to open the scoring early with his 13th goal of the playoffs. This wild first period saw the Carolina Hurricanes eventually come back to take a 3-2 lead by the end of that period.

The Pens scored twice in the second while blanking Carolina including a back breaker by Chris Kunitz with just seven seconds to go that gave them the lead and ended a long drought for Crosby's line mate.

ABOVE: Vladimir and Natalia celebrate their son, Evgeni's, success. The couple has attained "rock star" status in the Burgh.

After allowing the tying goal early in the third by Carolina's Patrick Eaves, it became "Evgeni time" as Malkin scored his second and third goals of the game leading the crowd into a frenzied state of near-orgasmic proportions. Indeed, it was a picture of Malkin's parents, Vladimir and Natalia, now beloved fixtures at Mellon Arena, shown kissing each other on the Jumbotron in celebration of their son's hat trick, that ignited a celebration that could best be described as "Vintage Pittsburgh".

ABOVE: Mother Malkin is now even into face painting her son's #71 on her cheek.

The third Malkin goal was truly a classic as the big Russian took a blind backhand shot that beat an incredulous goalie, Cam Ward. Ward. Ward, who until now had been very strong throughout the playoffs, is now in the process of joining the ever-growing list of goaltenders who have been put through the Penguins meat grinder and emerged as hamburger. Of the 42 shots faced by Ward, Malkin had 8, Crosby 5 and Kunitz 4. Marc-Andre Fleury faced 28.

The Crosby-Malkin duo now has 23 goals (13 and 10) and the Pens are looking more and more like a team that is now hoping for a Detroit rematch. Of course right now to a man they would tell you that their only concern, as it should be, is this dangerous Carolina team. You can never look ahead beyond a team as skilled as Carolina, but the Penguins certainly brought them back down to Earth in these first two games.

The game got very chippy at the conclusion with Miroslav Satan, of all people, getting into a rare throw down along with several others, which was Carolinia's way of saying. "Don't worry Pittsburgh, we'll still show up for game three in our building."

Tyler Kennedy scored an empty-netter to put the cherry on top of the whipped cream in this one and end the scoring at 7-4. Game three will be played on Saturday night in Raleigh and the Pens will see an even more desperate Hurricanes team bolstered by their own very vocal crowd. A loss in game three would create an almost insurmountable hole for them so look for frenetic play in this one.

Detroit also leads their series against Chicago 2-0 with game 3 being played tonight.

ABOVE: No matter what language you may say it, Pittsburgh is in love with the Malkins.