Penguins notebook: Malkin downplays flare-ups with Kessel
Give thanks for those commercial breaks.
Minutes before he boarded the team plane Tuesday for Ottawa and Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the Senators, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin said there have been some tense moments with linemate Phil Kessel.
“I mean, like sometimes we lose (our) minds a couple shifts,” he said. “But after we rest, like a commercial break, we talk to each other and we always start to play better.”
Monday in Game 2, Malkin and Kessel got together for the only goal 13 minutes, 5 seconds into the third period of a 1-0 Penguins victory. Malkin recorded his 14th assist and Kessel his sixth goal of the playoffs.
If similar heated exchanges occur between the two, they’ll get past it, Malkin said.
“Sometimes it happens,” he said. “It’s like two periods 0-0, we understand we need to score, and we’re not happy like a couple shifts. We’re emotional guys. Like I’m open, and he (won’t) pass (to) me or he passes when I’m not open. I want (the) puck more. I will bark more sometimes.
“(Coach Mike Sullivan), he comes to me after and says, ‘Be careful, be easy, save your energy, just play (the) game.’ He’s right.”
Injured Penguins players Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz traveled to Ottawa, but Sullivan made no promises that they will play.
“Hornqvist and Justin Schultz are day-to-day with an upper-body injury,” he said. “Rusty is the same. He’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He’s still being evaluated. ”
Rust left the game Monday in the first period after absorbing a head shot from Ottawa defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Schultz also left in the first period, holding his arm after crashing into the boards. Hornqvist did not play.
The Penguins are aware of Phaneuf’s physicality, but that doesn’t mean they have hard feelings about it.
“He’s a physical guy,” Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “That’s one of the elements that he brings to the game.
“(Rust) caught a bad puck. It is what it is. You know (Phaneuf) is the type of guy who will take that extra shot. We have to be aware of him.”
Defenseman Trevor Daley has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury, but Sullivan said Daley is making progress toward a return to the ice.
“I think the next step is, obviously, he’ll — at some point here — join the team for practice, and that will be an indication that he’s a whole lot closer,” Sullivan said.
“He is skating on his own right now and making progress, so that’s encouraging.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.