It goes without saying that the Tampa Bay Lightning are thankful they no longer have to see the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. Today marked the last meeting between the two, and finished in a rout in favor of the Penguins. The 8-1 contest between the two was over in the first, long over in the second, and had become an embarrassment for Tampa Bay by the third.
So far in 2012, the Penguins have battled the Lightning three times, twice at home and once on the road. In each instance, however, one thing has proved constant: Evgeni Malkin’s domination.
Going back to January 15 in their first meeting of 2012, Malkin torched the Lightning with 3 goals and 2 assists in a 6-3 Penguins victory. It was Malkin’s second hat trick of the season, and part of a six-game goal scoring streak where he tallied 9 goals. Pittsburgh won the game 6-3 and was their second victory of an eight game win streak in January.
In their second meeting of 2012, on February 12th, Malkin was a bit more modest with his production. He finished with 2 goals and no assists as the the Penguins handed Tampa Bay another loss, this time 4-2.
Today, Malkin picked up right where he left off, contributing another hat trick, the ninth of his career, and added an assist for a four point afternoon. His second goal of the night is one that should make highlight reels everywhere (except ESPN, of course). Perhaps the highlight of the game, however, came when Malkin dazzled with an amazing dangle as he coasted with the puck from the Penguins’ blue line, through Tampa Bay’s defense and slid one past goalie Dwayne Roloson. Check out the slick move between the legs of defenseman Brett Clark to give himself a clear lane to the net. Poor Clark didn’t have a chance…
The Lightning can be thankful, that is certain. Malkin totaled 8 goals and 3 assists in the 3 games against the Lightning so far in 2012. Had the Penguins played any more against Tampa Bay, Malkin would have been a shoe-in for MVP.
Check out Malkin’s goal of the year candidate below and share your thoughts with us in the comments!