Evgeni Malkin is either having a really bad week, or a really good one.
The big Pittsburgh Penguins center has had an extra hint of snarl to his game lately. On Saturday night, he looked like a black-and-gold missile when he smashed New York Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi behind the net.
Girardi never saw Malkin coming, and had to be helped off the ice after the hit.
It happened behind the Rangers’ net, with the score tied 2-2. Marc Staal slipped the puck along the boards to Girardi, and Girardi was about to slide it into the corner when Malkin came streaking in.
Malkin caught Girardi looking the wrong way and slammed into him with his hip and back. Girardi went down on his back and did not get up.
The hit touched off a scrum, and Malkin got a minor penalty on the play.
It was the second bit of snarl Malkin has shown in the last two days.
On Friday, he took issue with a Dion Phaneuf hit on Patric Hornqvist, and stepped up to fight the Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain.
'Fight' might be too strong a word for the altercation, but Malkin didn't hesitate to engage, and the two had to be separated by referees.
Maybe you don’t want to see Malkin dropping his gloves – especially not to protect Patric Hornqvist – but Saturday’s hit was as clean as they come.
Malkin had a goal and an assist in the Pens’ 3-2 shootout win against the Rangers on Saturday. He failed to score in the shootout.
Girardi left the ice after the hit from Malkin, but he stayed in the game.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Malkin has seven goals and 19 points in 16 games played this season. He also has 24 penalty minutes.