After his team's 2-0 Game 3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens to go up 2-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, Evgeni Malkin(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins still had causes for concern -- despite breaking out of his goal-scoring slump.
"The start of the game was very tough for us. We didn't start well," he said. "As the game went on we took back the initiative, but we definitely have to start the next game better. But it was tough tonight at first. It was such an atmosphere, such an arena, and their team started running, but our goalie played great tonight."
Malkin spoke with Sovetsky Sport's Gennadi Boguslavki after Game 3 in Montreal, and I've translated the conversation here.
Q. Did you change anything in your power play approaching this game?
MALKIN: When we are not scoring, we always try to change something every game. When we don't score on one power play, that's OK, it happens. But when we can't score on four or five, it's a bad sign, and of course something has to be changed. And that's what we did before this game. We went over our mistakes, watched the video. And since we did score on power play that means there's a result and we're moving in the right direction.
Tonight's game was a bit nervous with lots of hooks, a bit aggressive. It seemed like you were playing the Flyers.
This is the playoffs. And it's the same for every team. We watch other games on TV, like the Bruins, for example. They are playing great. Every team wants to win, and there aren't a lot of penalties called. There is a lot more dirty play, there is a lot more personal screening. But that's why the playoffs are so interesting. How can you play without hooks? We'll try not to pick up penalties in the next game and there shall be less hooks from us, but more goals.
When you scored tonight did you have a feeling like a rock dropped from your shoulders because you couldn't score in so many games?
Not really. Why? It's not such a huge tragedy if I don't score in a few games. It's tough to say. It's a game, and sometimes it just can't click. And their goalie is playing great. It is very difficult to score against a goalie like him, especially in the playoffs, when every game is so close and the score is minimal.
Of course it's great that I scored, and I hope to continue this way. But I am not thinking about scoring in every game, I am thinking about the team and how to play better in defense, to help my team, and not to draw penalties.
How are you studying Halak? Are you shown some special tricks how to get one by him?
Of course we watch the video, and not only on him but all the other players. That's how we come up with how to shoot. We also have a goaltending coach who gives us advice. But it's not like we come out and shoot top shelf just because we were told to shoot top shelf. It's very tough.
That's why we improvise a lot on our own and try to score on other shots. It's difficult to put words into action, but we're trying our best. And I hope we will succeed.
In a series so heavily dominated by one goaltender how difficult is it for a forward to change the flow of a game? Is there a "goalie factor" present?
It's tough for any forward. Look at our goaltender tonight. He played great, and that's why we celebrated a victory. Goaltenders influence the game a lot.
It also matters because after you can't score for some time and you have a chance after chance, you're in a psychological hole. You become nervous, you start looking at others. And it's all like a snowball because you become jumpy. It's tough. To be honest, it's better to score.
What is the most important thing you have to do to win in Game 4?
Game 4 is going to be very decisive. But what can you do? We have to win, and we have to start the game better. We have to gain the momentum and play our game. That's the most important thing. We have a good young team, and all we need to do is to pick up the speed a little bit and play a bit simpler.
We also should make less mistakes in our own zone, shoot more, and score on their goalie.