Evgeni Malkin laughs at your Game 2 dominance, Carolina

Hey, remember earlier in the postseason Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins was being called the invisible man and getting labeled as a choke artist for struggling in the fetus stages of the Penguins/Capitals series?

After Pittsburgh's 7-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, say hello to Evgeni Malkin, playoff-leading scorer and owner of the postseason's best goal thus far:

Wow. Malkin's hat trick was the first in the playoffs for the Penguins since Sidney Crosby's on May 4; or, if you were watching Versus, Martin Straka's in 1999 (d'oh).

Great win for the Penguins. The Hurricanes had the forecheck cranked up at times, but it was Pittsburgh that eventually won the war of attrition. They stood up physically (hits were even at 29) and received two absolutely clutch goals from Chris Kunitz (and welcome to the playoffs, sir) and Max Talbot, on a breakaway blast that Malkin set up. Carolina got scoring from its depth; the difference was that Pittsburgh had goals from both the complementary players and the superstars.

Speaking of superstars ... Malkin was extraordinary tonight, wasn't he? And has anyone made Mama and Papa Malkin dolls yet in Pittsburgh? Because they're pretty much adorable.

Some observations on the Game 2 win for the Penguins ...

• How many of the six goals Cam Ward surrendered could genuinely be considered his fault? Probably doesn't matter when he entered the night 5-0 with a 1.18 GAA and a .956. save percentage in five career Game 2 starts, and leaves with a six-spot on his record. But the defense laid a red carpet down in front of the goal at times.

• Carolina's power play unit was at 12 percent heading into the night, and it can be successful argued that their flop on the 4-on-3 power play during the second period was a turning point. It was like they were getting paid by the pass. Way too tentative.

Tim Gleason was abused tonight, to the tune of a minus-3. He should offer Ward a written apology for his "after you, sir" defense on Malkin's second goal.

Eric Staal in the faceoff circle: 8-23 for 35 percent. Jordan Staal in the faceoff circle: 9-15 for 60 percent.

• Let's see: Ryan Bayda took Kris Letang hard to the boards on an icing call with 1:19 left in the game and then cross-checked him to the face. Intent? Check. Stick work? Check. Blow to the head? Check. "Message sending" at the end of the game? Check. Match penalty? Check. It doesn't get more cut-and-dry for supplementary discipline by the standards the NHL has established this postseason. Which of course means Colin Campbell will instead nominate Bayda for the Nobel Peace Prize ...

• All of that said: There's a better chance Carolina rallies in this series than Chicago rallies against the Red Wings. Just a hunch.

• We're buying a beer for whoever had the stones to ask Crosby about the time it took to clean up the hats. If anyone had the stones to do so.

• If the Penguins can continue to get away with it, the seven defensemen set-up is working and the evening out in ice time may be beneficial for their shutdown guys in the long run. Only one D-man, Hal Gill, was over 20 minutes in Game 2. Carolina had four defensemen north of 20.

• Finally, Malkin may be giving him a race for the Conn Smythe Watch, but Crosby's record-tying sixth goal to start a playoff game was a reminder that it's not just what you score, but when you score them.

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