Malkin looks to continue his surge this evening and help Pittsburgh to a seventh straight home victory as it hosts the Anaheim Ducks, who are on their own successful run since a slow start to the season.
The Penguins have won the first two contests of a three-game residency to match their longest home winning streak of the season. Sunday's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay also pushed their overall mark to 11-2-1 since a six-game slide from Dec. 29-Jan. 11 and has the Pens tied with Philadelphia for second place in the Atlantic Division and fourth overall in the East with 69 points.
That comes as a bit of a surprise given that Crosby has played in just eight games since suffering a concussion last January and remains sidelined indefinitely since his brief return in late November. Malkin has picked up the offense in the captain's absence, leading the NHL with 69 points while ranking second in goals with 32.
Malkin scored twice in the win over the Lightning and just missed an empty-net goal as time expired. He has five tallies and 10 points over a five-game point streak and has logged nine goals and six helpers over an eight-game point streak at home that dates back to Jan. 7. That is tied for the second-longest such streak in club history, trailing only Mario Lemieux's 11-game run from Jan. 5-Feb. 23, 1996.
"It looks like in 2009, when Sidney went down and he kind of took over and was playing unbelievable," Pens defenseman Kris Letang said of Malkin. "But I think his game is better than it was two years ago. I think he's playing great hockey and it's the first time I've seen him being that dominate."
Both Letang and Chris Kunitz ended Sunday's win with a goal and two assists, while James Neal added three helpers. Neal now has a career high-tying 55 points on the season, while Kunitz has seven points in two games.
Pittsburgh is likely to go back to Marc-Andre Fleury in net this evening as it hopes to slow down streaking Anaheim. The Ducks are 4-0-2 in their past six, including 2-0-1 on a season-high eight-game road trip, and have logged points in 16 of 18 games since Jan. 6. They are 13-2-3 in that time and have moved to within eight points of the eighth seed in the West despite their 10-22-6 start that also featured a coaching change.
Anaheim is 16-11-5 since Bruce Boudreau took over on the bench for Randy Carlyle and won for the first time when trailing after two periods last night, getting third-period goals from Niklas Hagman and Corey Perry in a 2-1 win at Minnesota.
Perry, coming off a hat trick on Sunday versus Columbus, had the game-winner at 12:21 of the third and Jonas Hiller made 17 saves. The Ducks are 1-21-1 when trailing after two.
"I think the first period we didn't play our best hockey. We were a little sloppy at times and it showed, obviously," Ducks forward Jason Blake said. "That's a good hockey club over there. They fight hard and they fight to the end."
Anaheim also has points in nine of its last 10 on the road (6-1-3) and will be looking to snap a four-game slide at Pittsburgh tonight. The Ducks haven't won in the Steel City since Oct. 6, 2001 and snapped a four-game series losing streak with last year's 3-2 home win over the Pens.
Bobby Ryan scored as part of a two-point night and Saku Koivu had the game- winner for the Ducks. Crosby scored both goals for the Penguins to kick off what was eventually a 25-game point streak that came to an end just a few games before he suffered his concussion.