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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Malkin-Inspired Penguins on the Up

APPenguins center Malkin skating across the blue line with Devils' Jay Pandolfo challenging during the first period of the NHL game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin has needed only four games to show the NHL he might be a very special player. He proved it to star goaltender Martin Brodeur with one shot.

Malkin, 20, moved up to Pittsburgh's top line with Sidney Crosby for the first time, secured the young Penguins' 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night with exactly the kind of "did-you-see-that?" goal that made him a No. 2 draft pick in 2004.

Taking a cross-ice pass from Crosby, Malkin split two defenders and did a spin move near the net to beat Brodeur on a backhander to restore Pittsburgh's two-goal lead midway through the third period. Malkin, the Russian Olympic star who sneaked away from his pro team there to play in the NHL this season, has a goal in each of his first four NHL games. He is the first player to do so since Steven King of the Rangers in 1992.

"I came right from the bench and I had a lot of energy," Malkin said, speaking through interpreter George Birman. "A lot of guys on their team were wanting to change. He made a nice pass, saw me there and it was just me and the defender."

Brodeur's take on Malkin's goal?

"Pretty amazing," the Devils' longtime star said. "It was a great pass, but there's not too many guys who can control that and after that, have the presence to outmuscle a guy and shift when a guy is trying to take your head off. I thought I had it the whole way, he had nowhere to go, and he just stopped and went right around me with his reach."

Right now, a player must do something remarkable to get noticed on the Penguins. The NHL's worst franchise the last four seasons is flashing signs it could be much better -- and soon.

Jordan Staal, the No. 2 pick in the June draft who turned 18 only last month, has three goals in two games and four in eight games. One game after being the youngest player in NHL history to score twice short-handed, he got his first career goal at even strength on a tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Nils Ekman, who also scored, and Mark Recchi.

Not to get overlooked, Crosby had a goal and an assist, giving him 34 points in his last 18 games dating to the end of last season.

In other games Tuesday, it was: Ottawa 6, Toronto 2; and Calgary 6, Phoenix 1.