So let me get this straight.
The Penguins outhit the Kings, were the more responsible team, and Evgeni Malkin nearly fought Justin Williams?
OK, just making sure.
Seriously, though, that happened. Hits went 33-32 in the Penguins’ favor. Malkin did indeed engage with Williams, the rare battle of Conn Smythe winners. And the Kings, winners of two Stanley Cups the past three years and the masters of the postseason, took entirely too many penalties.
That afforded the Penguins six power plays, and the home team scored on two of them.
It dropped their season-long conversion rate.
“They have the best power play in the league,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Can’t take penalties against these guys and give them the opportunity to go up a man.”
“We were too slow, so we had to take penalties,” Kings forward Dustin Brown added.
Malkin nearly registered his first-ever regular season fight – he’s fought three times in the playoffs and once in the preseason, according to hockeyfights.com – with Williams early in the third period.
Instead, Malkin registered a takedown that would have made Cael Sanderson at Penn State proud.
(For those of you who don’t share my affinity for college wrestling, Sanderson is a wrestling legend and the head coach of the defending four-time NCAA champs.)
Afterward, I asked Jarret Stoll – Williams wasn’t available – whether he was surprised that Malkin and Williams were going at it.
“Two competitive guys. They both play hard,” Stoll said. “Both guys were probably a little (ticked) off. It happens.”
Here’s what Malkin, who recorded an assist to extend his season-opening point streak to nine games, had to say on the matter.
“It’s all emotion,” Malkin said. “I don’t like fights, but (there’s) sometimes lots of emotion. A couple times he asked me to (fight).”
The Penguins were very physical tonight, and they had to be. The Kings led the league in hits last season and again are atop the NHL, but Simon Despres registered a game-high seven, Zach Sill added five, and Chris Kunitz, Blake Comeau and Craig Adams contributed four apiece.
One other note from those complaining that Kris Letang doesn’t shoot enough: Tonight he finished with eight shot attempts, five on net. It’s the most attempts in a single game so far for Letang.
Alright, that’s it from me. Practice tomorrow at noon at Consol. Will tweet updates.
Be GRATEFUL to each other,