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MALKIN'S GOAL AND TWO ASSISTS LEAD RUSSIA PAST U.S.

Tuesday, 02.21.2006 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
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MALKIN\'S GOAL AND TWO ASSISTS LEAD RUSSIA PAST U.S.

Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and assisted two others to lead Russia to a 5-4 win over the United States on Tuesday at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Malkin, the 2004 second-overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, scored Russia's second goal and set up the team's fourth and fifth tallies.

On a two-on-one 10:41 into the contest, Malkin sent a pass to former Penguin Darius Kasparaits, received a return pass and slammed it into the net for Russia's second goal 10:41 into the contest. It was a short-handed tally.

In the third period, Malkin set up Alexander Ovechkin for Russia's fourth goal. Streaking down near wing, Malkin sent a pass across the ice to Ovechkin, who slapped it into the goal for a 4-3 Russia lead.

The U.S. tied it at 4-4, but former Penguin Alexei Kovalev took a Malkin pass and rifled a shot into the net soon after and the Russians held on for the 5-4 victory.

Malkin now has six points (2+4) in five games for Russia, which wrapped up the preliminary round with a 4-1 record in Group B. Malkin, who at 19 is the youngest player in the tournament, is tied for eight tournament scoring with Slovakia's Marian Gaborik. Malkin, who ranks second on Russia in points to Pavel Datsyuk (8), has more points than such NHL stars as Jaromir Jagr, Daniel Alfredsson, Ilya Kovalchuk, Martin Straka and Kovalev.

NBC commentators John Davidson and Mike "Doc" Emrick had nothing but good things to say about Malkin once again during the telecast.

"This guy is unbelievable," Emrick said. "Malkin has been impressive defensively, too."

Davidson agreed, "Not only is he good offensively, but Malkin is pretty good defensively. He's good in his own zone."

Davidson couldn't resist comparing Malkin to Russian teammate Ovechkin, who was the 2004 first-overall pick.

"Some people are already saying that Malkin is better than Ovechkin," he said. "Fans in Pittsburgh are just drooling to get Malkin."

NBC studio analyst Ray Ferraro, a former NHL player had this to say about Malkin: "Evgeni Malkin has been sensational."

Peter McNab, a former NHL player and current TV color analyst for the Colorado Avalanche, was impressed with Malkin when he called Saturday's Russia-Kazakhstan battle on CNBC.

"We've seen him do everything. We've seen toughness; we've seen him kill penalties; we've seen him play the power play; we've seen him backcheck; we've seen him hit. We haven't seen him sharpen skates yet, but that's about the only thing we haven't seen.

"Pittsburgh Penguins fans have to be salivating at the prospect of Malkin and Sidney Crosby playing on the same team," he added. "Malkin will be 20 next year. Sidney will be 19. Those are two franchise players, and they're going to be playing together in Pittsburgh."

Single-elimination quarterfinal action begins Wednesday as Switzerland takes on Sweden at 10:30 a.m., Finland battles the U.S. at 11:30 a.m., Russia tangles with Canada at 2:30 p.m. and Slovakia takes on the Czech Republic at 3:30 p.m.

The semifinal round will be played Friday.

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