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Winter is Coming

Penguins talk defeating King Henrik

Thursday, 05.1.2014 / 1:50 PM ET / 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Coverage
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Winter is Coming

Evgeni Malkin is a big fan of Henrik Lundqvist.

“(He’s my) favorite goalie to watch,” Malkin said. “I like him a lot.”

That admiration, however, won’t stop Malkin from trying to find the back of the net as much as possible against Lundqvist and build off his hat trick in Game 6 vs. Columbus that helped Pittsburgh advance to the second round.

“I feel great,” said Malkin, who was held goalless in the first five games of the Columbus series before breaking through for three in the last one. “I hope in the second round I start scoring in the first game. (Lundqvist) can’t stop every shot, you know? If we screen him and go to the net, create rebounds, it’s a good chance to score.”

Lundqvist, nicknamed “the King,” is certainly a majestic goalie to watch. He’s the Rangers’ franchise goaltender, their best player and one of the league’s elite – being nominated for the Vezina Trophy four times in his career and winning it in 2012. He and Marc-Andre Fleury are the top-two winningest regular-season netminders in the NHL over the past five years.

Lundqvist is clearly a talented netminder, but defenseman Matt Niskanen said that while all goalies have their strengths and weaknesses, the way to beat them is always the same – especially at this time of year.

“Every goalie is unique,” Niskanen explained. “Everyone says this goalie or that goalie doesn’t like traffic, or this goalie struggles with rebounds. Everyone says that about every goalie. The common theme is that’s how you score, especially in the playoffs. Teams that are moving on, the later you go, they’re playing there for a reason. It gets harder to score goals on pretty plays. I think we did a good job in Games 5 and 6 of really establishing a ‘shot and crash’ mentality. Your plays and skill will take over from there. (But) you have to establish that.

“Lundqvist is certainly stronger in some areas of goaltending than others. He’s going to be tough to beat. It will be a good test for us getting to the net and trying tofind some goals, make plays when we’re there. Typically you try to expose every goalie the same way.”

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, still looking for his first goal of the playoffs (though he totaled six assists in six games during the first round) agreed with Niskanen.

“At this point, (all goalies) are going to be good,” Crosby said. “You don’t get this far without goaltending. He’s a big part of their success like any team at this point. We have to find ways to get offense."

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