The Philadelphia Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry took an ugly turn Monday night when Penguins star Evgeni Malkin was ejected for swinging his stick at an opponent’s head.
Malkin, who had returned from a five-game injury absence, was being worked over by Flyers forward Michael Raffl late in the third period near the Philadelphia blue line. When Raffl cross-checked Malkin and then punched him in the back of the head, the center reacted by swinging his stick around one-handed with some force.
Malkin received a match penalty and was kicked out, leaving the Penguins short-handed for the remainder of the game. Jakub Voracek scored 20 seconds later to give the Flyers their first goal of the game.
Here’s a view from another angle.
A match penalty requires a league review of the play, and the league’s Department of Player Safety tweeted Monday night that it would conduct a hearing with Malkin on Tuesday for high-sticking/slashing.
“I know I was not playing smart with five minutes left, but it’s only like one point,” Malkin told reporters after the game. “I know it was dirty, but I missed my stick and I touched his, like, shoulder to shoulder, I don’t know.
“Everyone was like give me five minutes. It wasn’t dangerous, he wasn’t bleeding or anything. I know it gave them a five-minute power play and it was my fault for sure but just play smart next time.”
Malkin had received a match penalty in November for an illegal hit to the head of Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, but the league ruled at that time against giving him further discipline.
The Penguins had plenty going for them in the 4-1 win on Monday. Goalie Matt Murray made 50 saves and Kris Letang set a franchise record for career goals by a defenseman (109).
The Penguins ended a four-game losing streak and ended their hard-charging division rival’s 10-game point streak to get some breathing room in the playoff race before the teams meet outdoors at the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23.
But now the Penguins will also need to wonder how long they will be without Malkin.