Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed this afternoon that superstar center Evgeni Malkin will once again NOT play when the Penguins take on the Washington Capitals later today.
After sitting out Game 1 of the team’s second round playoff series, a game in which the Penguins stormed back from a two goal deficit to earn a 3-2 victory and a series opening 1-0 lead, there was some speculation that Malkin may return to his team’s lineup for this afternoon’s pivotal Game 2 matchup. Not so, says coach Sullivan.
#Pens coach Sullivan said Evgeni Malkin will not play in Game 2 vs. #Caps. -MC
As of last night, Sullivan had Malkin listed as a “game time decision”, but the coach’s latest update has poured cold water over any hope that he’d get into the lineup.
Sullivan also made a point of clarifying that Malkin’s injury has not worsened and that him sitting out today’s game is all part of the process.
#Pens coach Sullivan said Malkin did not have a setback. "Just part of the process." -MC
Meanwhile, the Penguins seemed to do just fine without their regular season scoring leader in Game 1. Despite falling behind 2-0 off the strength of a goal and an assist from Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, the Penguins stormed back with three unanswered goals by proven playoff performers like Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby to take Game 1 by a score of 3-2.
Unsurprisingly, Capitals fans were left stunned. As has been the case so often when it comes to head to head matchups between these two teams, just when it appeared that Capitals were home and cooled… the Penguins, led by Crosby, swooped in to spoil the party.
No official word yet, but with Malkin still out of the Penguins' lineup, it's expected that they'll ice a lineup similar to this for today's Game 2 action:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Dominik Simon - Derick Brassard - Phil Kessel
Conor Sheary - Riley Sheahan - Bryan Rust
Zach Aston Reese - Carter Rowney - Tom Kuhnhackl
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Justin Schultz
Jamie Oleksiak - Chad Ruhwedel