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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Malkin Tops Ovechkin in Showdown

APPenguins forward Malkin celebrating his second-period goal against the Capitals with teammate and compatriot Sergei Gonchar in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin created a goal out of nothing, keeping the Pittsburgh Penguins' most successful run in 14 years going.

Malkin scored a bad-angle goal to give Pittsburgh the lead in another tightly played game against Washington, and the streaking Penguins won their sixth in a row, beating the Capitals 3-2 in the NHL on Sunday.

The Penguins have gained at least one point in 16 consecutive games, going 14-2-0, their longest run since they won a league-record 17 in a row and tied one to end the 1992-93 season.

Malkin has keyed the Penguins' first playoff run since 2001 with 10 goals and 16 assists in 17 games, making up for slumping NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby, who has only had one goal in 10 games.

The Penguins are convinced that Malkin, the No. 2 pick in the 2004 NHL draft to Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, is more than a little motivated any time he goes against his Russian rival. It was the first and only time two Russians were picked 1-2.

"They're very competitive, good hockey players and good friends so there's definitely a little bit of something with him," Penguins player Mark Recchi said.

Of Malkin's 29 goals as a rookie, perhaps none was more creative than his score late in the second period. With the score tied at 1-1, Malkin carried the puck out from behind the Capitals' net and fed it up the right wing boards to Sergei Gonchar -- at this time a year ago, Malkin's Russian Olympic teammate.

Malkin took Gonchar's giveback pass and, from along the goal line, one-timed a perfectly placed left-handed shot inside the far post, almost before Washington backup goalie Brent Johnson could react.

The goal reminded Recchi of some of those scored by a former Penguins teammate -- Mario Lemieux.

"With his size and his hands, [Malkin] looks like him," Recchi said. "Mario was one of those guys who can score from that angle, and only a few guys can. A lot of guys don't even try that."

Malkin, speaking through interpreter George Firman, called it a "lucky goal." But he acknowledged having a little something extra any time he goes against Ovechkin, who was leading the NHL in goals before being held to one goal and one assist in his last seven games.

"Yeah, of course, I enjoy playing against him, especially when we win the games -- and he's getting pretty mad," Malkin said.

After the Penguins similarly frustrated Ovechkin in a 2-0 win in Pittsburgh on Feb. 3, Ovechkin broke his stick in anger while going to the locker room.

"When Ovechkin gets only one goal in seven games, it's tough to win," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said after his team outshot Pittsburgh 31-25. "Don't mistake that -- it's not his fault we're not winning. But if you're asking where the offense has gone, he's a big part of that."