Evgeni Malkin Named NHL's First Star of the Week

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Because assists count, too.

With eight points (1G, 7A) in four games last week, the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL's first star of the week.

Malkin has been productive despite an uncharacteristic lack of goals this season -- just four in 24 games, the lowest per-game output of his career. In spite of that, Malkin ranks seventh in the NHL scoring race with 26 points (4G, 22A). His 22 assists are tied with San Jose's Joe Thornton for the NHL lead.

From NHL.com,

Malkin led all skaters with seven assists and eight points as the Penguins (15-9-0, 30 points) won three of four games to re-claim first place in the Metropolitan Division.

He posted a pair of assists in each of his first two games of the week: a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Nov. 18 and a 4-0 triumph over the Washington Capitals Nov. 20. Malkin then snapped a 15 game goal drought, recording 1-1-2 in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders Nov. 22.

He closed the week by collecting two assists, his fourth consecutive multi-point game, in a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Nov. 23. The 27-year-old native of Magnitogorsk, Russia, has recorded at least one point in 10 of his past 11 games (1-15-16) and is tied for first in the NHL with 22 assists while also placing seventh in the League with 26 points in 24 contests.

Teammate Sidney Crosby continues to lead the NHL scoring race with 30 points, but Malkin is closing in with regular linemate and BFF James Neal back on his wing.

Malkin signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension with the Penguins last summer, giving him the highest cap hit on the team and second-richest contract behind Crosby's pre-lockout, $104 million deal.

Despite the low goal output, Malkin is second on the team in scoring and among the top-ten scorers in the NHL. That's money well spent.

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