Malkin’s NHL debut was delayed for two weeks by a dislocated shoulder that occurred in his first pre-season game. He scored Pittsburgh’s first goal of the game on what was his best shift of his first game.
Sent out immediately after the Penguins killed a penalty, he skated hard down the right side and put a shot on Brodeur that missed, but he recovered to make a backhand pass that Sidney Crosby nearly scored on.
Still on the ice 30 seconds later, Malkin set up a Recchi shot that Brodeur thought he had controlled only to have Malkin poke it in when the puck stayed in the crease. The goal tied the score at 1, but Jamie Langenbrunner’s goal in the third period won it for New Jersey 2-1 as Brodeur won his 450th regular-season game.
The 20-year-old Malkin, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft to last year’s rookie of the year Alexander Ovechkin of Washington, is one of the NHL’s most anticipated young players in years. He accomplished what Penguins owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux achieved in his first NHL game in 1984 by scoring in his first game.
The Penguins showed a Malkin video tribute on the scoreboard before the game, showing some of his highlights in international play. Then, in an unannounced move, Malkin started the game on the same line as Crosby, who became the youngest player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season by getting 102 last season at age 18.
Malkin was under pressure to stay with his Magnitogorsk team of the Russian Super League this season – there is no transfer agreement between Russia and the NHL. But he sneaked away from the team in August and made his way to the United States so he could play in North America this season.
Magnitogorsk is on the verge of suing the NHL and the Penguins over Malkin’s move, a legal manoeuvre that appears to be designed to pressure the league and team to pay compensation for Malkin.