Evgeni Malkin’s third-period goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 3 did more than insure a dominant 5-1 win over the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions in their home arena— it also recalled what might be the single most memorable strike of Malkin’s career.
On Thursday, the play began when Pierre‑Edouard Bellemare lined Malkin up for a hit along the neutral-zone boards.
Malkin responded by bouncing him to the ice, then skated past Bellemare to the defensive zone. He helped force a turnover, then slipped behind Tampa Bay’s defense and put himself in position to accept a breakaway pass from Danton Heinen.
EVGENI MALKIN JUST WENT FULL-ON BEAST MODE pic.twitter.com/UBIohq1HOe— Danny Shirey (@DannyShireyPGH) March 4, 2022
His choice to end the breakaway with no-nonsense shot— no unnecessary dekes, powerful, and well outside the blue paint— brings to mind a certain goal Malkin scored during his second season in the NHL.
The date was May 9, 2008, and Malkin was in the third round of the playoffs for the first time of his career. In Game 1, the rival Philadelphia Flyers were all that stood between the Penguins and a shot at the Stanley Cup Final.
Mike Richards scored twice in four minutes to put the Flyers ahead early, but Sidney Crosby and Malkin each scored to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead by the end of the first period.
The Flyers earned the chance to tie the game on a power play early in the second period. As Malkin attempted to collect the puck in the Penguins’ offensive zone, Richards decked him, sending Malkin crashing into the ice and the puck going to the other way on a man-advantage rush.
As Penguins fans at Mellon Arena watched with bated breath, Malkin slowly got back up to his skates.
Then, just as Malkin returned to the blue line, penalty killer Sergei Gonchar launched a breakaway pass from the defensive zone— and Malkin turned and streaked right back into Flyers’ territory on a shorthanded break.
Like on Thursday, this wasn’t a breakaway for dekes or hesitation. Malkin wound up to the ceiling and blasted a hard slapshot home.
There’s one conclusion we can draw between these two goals: there are few things more dangerous in the NHL than a recently-hit and currently-angry Evgeni Malkin on a breakaway.