We were happy to see Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup Friday night against Buffalo. Even when Buffalo scored on his first shift, we were happy. When the Sabres almost scored again on Geno's second shift, we were still happy. And when Mike Grier scored on Malkin's third shift of the game to make it 2-0, we were still happy. The Penguins looked terrible and they hung Marc-Andre Fleury out to dry completely in the first period, but at least Geno was back in the lineup in time to gear up for the stretch run. But one brutal Tyler Myers check later, and Malkin was out again indefinitely with what looked like another knee injury. The rest of the Penguins reacted to this potentially devastating development by doing what they've been doing all season in the face of adversity: winning. Here are the other essentials of what happened at Consol on Friday:
1) "Renegade" by Styx was played over the loudspeaker, which in Pittsburgh is like throwing chum into shark infested waters.
2) The Staal-Kennedy-Cooke line changed the game with an unbelievable shift late in the first period. Somebody must have shown Kennedy the GTOG post on how poorly he played against the Rangers last week. He was flying, and scored with bullet wrist shot after making the Kennedy Move, which we thought everyone in the league would know how to defend by now, but it looks like not everybody knows, so we'll stop talking about it now. Cooke was right up in everybody's grill, and he buried the game-winner off of a brilliant steal and feed from Staal, reminding Ryan Miller once again that he can't beat Pittsburgh. He really can't be reminded of this enough.
3) Dustin Jeffrey scored again and acted like, hey, no big deal.
4) Alex Goligoski skated beautifully and repeatedly got himself into great shooting position. If he ever starts to bury these chances, look out.
5) Paul Steigerwald announced that he plans to eat the new "Fleury Flakes" breakfast cereal being promoted by Fleury and is certain it will be "just fine."
6) Fleury was again outstanding.
We'll keep you posted if we hear anything further on Malkin. Otherwise, GTOG is taking Sunday off. There are a couple of games we want to watch. Podcast of the century coming on Monday.