Pens need ‘best game’ from Malkin and Kessel

PITTSBURGH — Evgeni Malkin expects Phil Kessel to score in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, and anticipates his own “best game” too.

The Penguins will likely need Malkin and Kessel at their best to wrestle back control of a series that’s lately gone the Predators way.

Nashville captured Games 3 and 4 in front of a raucous home crowd and did so, in part, by continuing to stifle the two-headed offensive monster that lines up behind Sidney Crosby.

“It’s time,” Malkin said. ”It’s a good time to show your best game because there’s only three games left and (then) we have two, three months (of) summertime.”

Malkin, the leading scorer in the playoffs (26 points), went pointless with only two shots in the two defeats and has been suffocated — all series really — by the Preds’ menacing duo of P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm.

The big Russian boasts an ugly 39 per cent possession mark in the four games so far with five-on-five scoring chances favouring Nashville 24-8.

Kessel hasn’t scored since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final (six games), meanwhile, and has been held to just a single assist so far this series.

“I missed a couple shots that I probably don’t want to miss,” the fully-bearded Wisconsinite said after practice on Wednesday morning.

”You want to bury them but sometimes they don’t go in.”

Kessel has scored more goals on a per-game basis in the playoffs (0.43 for his career) than any current player not named Alex Ovechkin or Jarome Iginla (minimum 50 games).

He trails only Malkin and Crosby with 20 points this post-season and appears due to come through, posting maybe his finest game of the final in a Game 4 loss with eight attempts on goal.

To his point, three missed the net, another three were blocked and only two found their way to Pekka Rinne — both of which were stopped.

“He’s waited like a long time — he hasn’t scored in a long time,” Malkin said, noting the need for the Penguins leaders to rise up.

”But now it’s time. Last game I think he (played his) best game in this series, and I see he is like ice, (but) he plays so hard, and I believe, I feel it (Thursday), he’ll (play a) great game.”

Kessel had 10 goals and 22 points during last year’s Cup run while firing more than four shots per-game — mostly alongside Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin. With Malkin, he’s shot the puck a lot less (2.8 per-game) but still remained largely productive.

Asked how he’d managed to come through previously when under pressure Kessel responded in typical easy-going fashion: ”Just do whatever I do.”

Just Posted

Blackfalds firefighter battling cancer

A volunteer firefighter in Blackfalds for 15 years, Dave Sutherland now battling… Continue reading

Red Deer transit users are concerned about the future

But recreation centre users are glad facility hours were maintained

Community cardiac awareness dinner and show to be held

Continued focus to bring cardiac catheterization lab to Red Deer

Red Deer businesses react to 2.02 per cent tax increase for 2018

Chamber would prefer zero increase, while DBA thinks it’s reasonable

Bring on the rodeo says Red Deer County mayor

Canadian Finals Rodeo’s move to Red Deer good for whole region, says Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month