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Malkin held scoreless, but, like other Penguins, savors moment in brighter spotlight
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Peter Diana, Post-Gazette photos
Evgeni Malkin is checked by the Avalanche's Wojtek Wolski last night in the NHL YoungStars game in Dallas.
Click photo for larger image.

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55th NHL All-Star Game

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: Versus


DALLAS -- In the end, Evgeni Malkin was able to smile.

Even though he could not convert on several scoring chances in the NHL YoungStars Game.

And even though, in a misunderstanding, he thought someone walked away with his sweater from the All-Star event last night at American Airlines Center.

"This will be a lifetime memory," the Penguins' rookie center said through interpreter Kate Nersesov after he was one of two players in the game who was held without a point in the Eastern Conference's 9-8 victory over the Western Conference.

Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney had one goal, a one-timer set up by teammate Jordan Staal, who had two assists.

After the game, Malkin looked around the room and seemed a little perturbed. It wasn't just the fact that he was shut out in a game that was played four-on-four with a running clock and consisted of three 10-minute periods.

"Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to get my jersey I was playing in," he said. "I wanted to keep it for the memory."

It turns out the players used a different jersey for each period. One goes to the Penguins, one to the NHL --those two probably will eventually benefit charity -- and one will be sent to the players. They just weren't able to walk away with them last night.

At some point, that probably will be conveyed to Malkin in Russian.

Something was a little lost in translation for him on the ice, too, as he failed to score on several breakaways and odd-man breaks. In the third period, he bore down alone on Western goaltender Peter Budaj of Colorado, only to have the puck roll off of his stick before he could shoot it.


Penguins Evgeni Malkin, left and Jordan Staal, right, make fun of teammate Ryan Whitney after he was introduced for the game last night.
Click photo for larger image.
"I think Geno's a little frustrated," Whitney said of Malkin, who leads all rookies with 24 goals and 51 points. "He gets enough in the regular games, so he gets to take a night off."

New Jersey's Zach Parise had two goals and four assists and was named the game's MVP.

Also having big nights were Boston rookie Phil Kessel with three goals and an assist and Los Angeles rookie Anze Kopitar with two goals and three assists.

Even the goaltenders, Budaj and Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen, each had an assist.

"Our coaches were telling us to stand on the blue line and wait for the puck," Staal said.

"It's a different game, but it's something for the fans, and I think they enjoyed it."

Staal said the experience made him want to return as a member of the regular All-Star Game in the future.

Whitney said the whole experience was enjoyable.

"I think just being around the players, the guys that are in the regular All-Star Game and the fact that we got to be around our teammates," he said. "It's fun to see how guys get ready for games, what kind of sticks they use. And then being able to see the [SuperSkills competition] and the game is great."

The Penguins' players got an extra treat when they were invited to fly to Dallas in a private plane courtesy of Penguins Hall of Fame player and team owner Mario Lemieux.

"I did not expect to fly in a private plane of such a big celebrity," said Malkin, who made the most of his trip.

"I've already met some of the stars. I've already made friends with some of these people. It's all beyond my expectations."

First published on January 24, 2007 at 12:00 am
Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.