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Penguins Evgeni Malkin celebrates 1,000th game, scores shootout winner vs. Flames

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Prior to Wednesday’s home game against the Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins recognized superstar Evgeni Malkin for recently playing in his 1,000th career game.

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It was a celebration of the player who has meant the most to this franchise over the past 17 seasons.

And even at the age of 36, Malkin’s 17th season wasn’t too bad considering he went into Wednesday as the team’s second leading scorer with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in his first 19 games of the season.

“He worked the off-season (last summer) really hard,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s as strong as he is. He came into camp as good as he’s been in the eight seasons I’ve been here. He’s a proud guy and he wants to show people and because he’s the elite.

“He proved it in this first part of the season here.”

On Wednesday, the 1,001st game of Malkin’s dazzling career, he proved he still had a huge impact on his team’s fortunes.

Scoring the decisive goal in the penalty shootout, Malkin helped his team to a hard-fought 2–1 victory extending the team’s winning streak to a best-of-four matches of the season. After scoring the winning penalty shootout, Malkin threw his stick into the crowd and presented a souvenir for the fans to be thankful on Thanksgiving Eve.

Strikers Ricard Raquel and Sidney Crosby also scored in the penalty shootout.

Goaltender Tristan Jarry was gritty as he made 33 saves on 34 shots in regulation and overtime and then blocked two of the four shots he faced in the shootout. The score improved his record to 7-3-2.

Fire goaltender Dan Vladar was tough as he stopped 38 of 39 shots in regulation and in overtime as his record fell to 1-3-1.

An unexpected source provided the Penguins with a 2:09 lead in regulation when third baseman Jan Rota scored his third goal of the season.

Claiming a loose puck from between the benches, Penguins forward Jeff Carter pulled the ice and gained the offensive zone near midpoint. Facing resistance from Flames defenseman Noah Hanifen, Carter dumped the puck with a touchdown pass to the late Rota. With acres of ice and a calendar to consider his options, Rota cut off a dagger from Masum that incinerated Vladar’s barrier. Carter and Lenmat assisted Danton Heinen.

The Penguins appeared to hold a two-goal lead with a potential touchdown goal by forward Brian Rust at 9:34 of the first period, but the Flames issued a coach challenge on an offside basis and it was successful.

A dominant shift in the offensive zone led to the Flames’ first goal 8:37 into the second period.

After his team sacked the Penguins on several shooting attempts, Flames fullback Dennis Gilbert leveled a botched clearance attempt at left point and served it to his right point partner, Chris Tanev. Scanning for a moment to determine the firing lane, he grabbed Tanev and tore his wrist toward the cage. Fire defenseman Dillon Doby set up shop in the slot and deflected the puck off the ice, sending it bouncing over Jarry’s left leg on the near side. Dobbie was credited with his third goal from assists from Tanev and Gilbert.

Fladar, a 6-foot-5 hunk of long limbs and equipment, eliminated several quality chances for the Penguins throughout the contest, perhaps nothing more than denying Raquel’s steal from less than 10 feet into the hole at 11:47 in the second period. Raquel had a great chance, as Vladar’s massive hand robbed him of his wrist.

NB: Penguins forward Kaspiri Kapanen and fullback Chad Rohwedel were healthy scrapes.

Seth Rorabo is a writer for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Seth via email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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