Pens' Malkin, Hagelin out Game 1 vs. Capitals

Evgeni Malkin will sit out Game 1

The Pittsburgh Penguins will open up their second round playoff series against the Washington Capitals without two of their stars. "They did not skate with the team obviously, but they skated before the team". Alex Ovechkin scored 25 seconds into the third period to give the Capitals a two-goal lead.

Then the Sidney Crosby-Jake Guentzel connection took over. "We worry about who's in the lineup".

Head coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin will make the trip to Washington for Game 1, but Hagelin will not. Not after Pittsburgh has won nine consecutive playoff series dating to 2016, including two against these Capitals. Without the 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy victor, the Penguins rely more heavily on superstar Sidney Crosby and fellow centers Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan.

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One of hockey's grandest cliches goes something like this: If one of your best players is injured, shrug your shoulders and say something like, "I just need to play my game".

Hagelin was one of the Penguins top penalty killers during the regular season, averaging well over two minutes shorthanded per game. "But as we've said all along, we have a next-man-up attitude, and it's going to provide opportunity for other guys to step up and try to help us win". Malkin missed Game 6 of the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers with an undisclosed injury, while Hagelin left the same contest following a hit by Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

However, both took the ice prior to the team's practice on Wednesday.

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It will be interesting to see if he does the same against the Penguins, who have more high-end offensive skill throughout their lineup than the Blue Jackets, even without Malkin.

Washington blew a two-goal lead for the fourth time in seven games in these playoffs, but players felt they handled this better than situations in the first round against Columbus. Sheahan skated there today with Phil Kessel and Dominik Simon. We did a good job of that.”. But it would leave them chasing again, with Pittsburgh getting stronger if Malkin returns for Game 2.

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