PITTSBURGH – Evgeni Malkin put on a show for Hall of Famer Vladislav Tretiak.
With Tretiak, the former Soviet goalie now serving as Russia’s Olympic hockey general manager, looking on Wednesday night, Malkin had his fourth career hat trick to help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 8-2.
Malkin’s parents became minor celebrities in Pittsburgh in recent years, and the reigning league scoring champion seemed to have some of his better games when they were at Mellon Arena – and he always credited them afterward.
“He’s a good guy and of course a good goalie,” Malkin said. “Maybe he can come the next game; it’s good luck for me.”
Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz had four points apiece during Pittsburgh’s five-goal second period, when Ruslan Fedotenko also scored.
Sergei Gonchar added a goal and two assists, and Sidney Crosby three assists for the Penguins (26-11-1), who tied a season high for goals and matched New Jersey with 53 points to head into the holiday break tied atop the NHL standings.
“In a game like this a couple guys will have big nights and that’s good to see,” said Guerin, who had his first four-point game in almost three years.
The game couldn’t have gone worse for the Senators, who are expected to be without captain Daniel Alfredsson for at least a few weeks after he left late in the first period with a left shoulder injury.
“I’ll probably see the doctor (Thursday) and do an X-ray and see what the damage is,” said Alfredsson, whose arm was in a sling. “But I expect at least a few weeks.”
The loss of the team’s career leader in virtually every relevant category and longest-serving captain in the league came on a night Ottawa welcomed back three regulars to the lineup after extended absences: goalie Pascal Leclaire (fractured cheekbone, out 15 games), winger Chris Neil (left knee, 14 games) and winger Shean Donovan (right knee, 17 games).
The Penguins’ Craig Adams hit Alfredsson while his head was down and he was battling for the puck with a Penguin in the left-wing corner, causing Alfredsson’s helmet to fly off and him to lay on the ice for a short time.
Adams was not penalized, and the Senators clearly were not pleased with that. Coach Cory Clouston tersely declined comment repeatedly when asked what he thought of the hit and whether it should have drawn a penalty.
Anton Volchenkov and Chris Kelly scored for Ottawa, which has lost four of six.
“(Alfredsson’s) a big loss,” said Leclaire, who was pulled during the second intermission after allowing six goals on 24 shots. “He’s definitely our leader and a key player on our team. It seems we’re getting the injury bug a little… but we have some good guys in here. We all have to step it up a little bit.”
Malkin had only two goals in his previous 10 games and was held off the score sheet in each of his past two but had his first multiple-goal regular-season game since March 17 against Atlanta.
Malkin scored once in each period, the first and last off nice setups by Crosby.
“Sid made good passes to me twice and the power play played good tonight,” Malkin said. “We played very well the whole game.”
The Penguins, on a 9-2-1 run, entered the game with the league’s worst power play, but went 3-for-8 with an extra man, scoring three power-play goals for the second time this season.
Guerin had two of them in the second period and assisted on goals by Malkin and Kunitz during that period.
“It was frustrating and embarrassing,” Ottawa alternate captain Mike Fisher said. “It seemed like every mistake we made, they made us pay.”
Even before the hit on Alfredsson, the Senators already were ornery with officiating. Tuesday, general manager Bryan Murray called the league to complain after the team did not have a power play during a game for the third time this season on Monday.
Ottawa was given six opportunities Wednesday – not converting any. The Senators sent 47 shots at goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. It was the third time this season they had at least that many shots, but they have only a combined four goals in those contests and lost each.
In a game that included a hat trick and eight goals, the winning team’s goalie was named the No. 1 star.
“A score like that you don’t expect to see 40-plus (opponent) shots on the board,” Crosby said. “(Fleury) saw a lot of rubber for a score like that. He stayed sharp.”
NOTES: Ottawa had 24 shots during the first period, one shy of the record for a visiting team against the Penguins. … The previous high for most shots allowed by the Penguins under coach Dan Bylsma was 45. … There were 22 previous occurrences of a Penguins player having four points in a period.