Evgeni Malkin is riding an impressive hot streak, but he needs some more help from his teammates in order to pull the Pittsburgh Penguins out of their recent malaise.
They'll hope for other contributors Tuesday night when they visit the surging San Jose Sharks, who haven't lost to Pittsburgh at home in nearly two decades.
The Penguins (13-8-2) have dropped three of four and six of 10 since a six-game winning streak. They fell 2-1 in overtime at Columbus on Friday, then 3-2 in a shootout Saturday against a last-place Edmonton team that was playing its fourth road contest in six days. It was just their second home loss to the Oilers going back to 1994.
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Malkin accounted for both goals, the first coming 48 seconds into the second period when he stole the puck near the Edmonton zone and ripped a spinning backhand shot into the top of the net.
“That's one of those highlight-reel goals you're going to see for the next couple of days,” coach Mike Johnston told the team's official website. “It was just a great play and high-end skill to be able to beat a defenseman like that.”
Though Pittsburgh is slumping, Malkin has been extremely productive. He has seven goals and three assists in his last six games, contributing to more than half of the Penguins' 16 goals in that span. He'll be looking to end a three-game personal point drought against the Sharks, however.
“You saw his battle and his compete (Friday against Columbus),” Johnston said. “He's been in the groove lately. He's really been playing on top of his game.”
Meanwhile, second-leading goal scorer Phil Kessel has just one goal in his last nine games, though Sidney Crosby could be heating up with three goals during a season-high five-game point streak. He has scored only once in nine career games against San Jose.
The Sharks (14-9-0) have won seven of their last eight games behind excellent special teams. In that span, they've scored seven times on 29 power-play chances while surrendering three goals on 25 times short-handed.
Pittsburgh has scored on the power play in six straight games, but has also surrendered nine power-play goals over its last 10.
Six of San Jose's last seven victories have come on the road, while the club is just 4-6-0 at home. Saturday's 5-2 home victory against Calgary was its first since Nov. 5.
“We were desperate right from the start,” said Joe Pavelski, who had two assists. “We had everyone going and that was important. We've got to start winning a few games at home, and that was kind of our talk, is win tonight and go from there.”
The Sharks are undefeated in their last 12 home meetings with Pittsburgh including 10 straight victories. They haven't lost to the Penguins at home since Oct. 22, 1997.
San Jose won 3-1 at Pittsburgh on Nov. 21 despite being outshot 39-29. Brent Burns scored twice while former Penguin Paul Martin had a goal and an assist.
Patrick Marleau had two assists and has three goals and four assists in his last four games overall.