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Malkin scores in debut; Penguins lose to Devils

Oct 19, 2006 - 2:21 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Evgeni Malkin already has something in common with Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.

Making his anticipated NHL debut, Malkin scored in the second period in the Penguins' 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, who watched goaltender Martin Brodeur reach another milestone.

Drafted second overall in 2004, Malkin suffered a dislocated left shoulder in his first preseason game on September 20, pushing back his regular-season debut to Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old Malkin was greeted by a video tribute before the opening faceoff, then skated on a line with second-year phenom Sidney Crosby to start the game.

Malkin hit the goalpost in the first period before poking a rebound past Brodeur - a future Hall of Famer - in the middle session to tie the game at 1-1. The youngster played just over 18 minutes, finishing with two shots on goal.

"I was very worried about tonight's game and that first goal is very important," Malkin said through an interpreter. "In the future, I think it's going to be easier."

"It was good for (Malkin) to get that first goal under his belt and now he can just move on," Crosby said. "There was a lot of build-up for this and now that he's played, he knows what he has to do out there."

Penguins coach Michel Therrien thought Malkin's debut went well.

"I thought he started to feel more comfortable as the game went on," Therrien said. "It's a tough team to play against; they've been recognized over the years that they play really well defensively. He played his first full game. He didn't have training camp and only half an exhibition game. He's going to get better and better."

Malkin also drew praise from Brodeur.

"He played well. He's a talented guy, he makes a lot of moves in the middle of the ice," Brodeur said. "He's definitely an exciting player to watch."

In 1984, Lemieux also scored for Pittsburgh in his NHL debut. The Hall of Famer went on to finish his illustrious career with 690 tallies and 1,723 points.

Brodeur stopped all 16 shots he faced in the the third period and finished with 37 saves en route to his 450th career victory. He is behind only Ed Belfour (457) and Patrick Roy (551) on the all-time wins list.

"It's always nice to get it over with and now it's going to be a race to 500," Brodeur said. "Hopefully (I'll get it) in a couple of years."

Jamie Langenbrunner helped Brodeur to his latest milestone by beating Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury with a one-timer at 9:12 of the third period to snap a 1-1 tie. Langenbrunner's third goal of the season was set up off a quick pass from Patrik Elias.

"It was good patience by Patrik," Langenbrunner said. "He was able to drag (the puck) and get (Fleury) out of position and I kept my stick down and was able to put it in the net."

Fleury also was outstanding as he finished with 32 saves, including 19 in the second period.

The only blemish for Fleury in the middle period came 3:18 into the session, when Jay Pandolfo put his own rebound past the netminder for his first goal of the season to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.

Brodeur kept the Devils in front by turning aside Colby Armstrong's attempt from down low with under 10 minutes left in the second period.

Malkin drew a roar from the crowd later in the period by skating in the from the right side and poking the puck past Brodeur to tie the game.

"There's no way that goal should have been in," Brodeur said. "I think there's got to be a quicker whistle; you can't have two guys jabbing at me like that. It's just all about protection of the goalies. As a referee, you have to discourage guys from going at goalies when goalies have the puck. He didn't do that."

"Good players find ways to score and find the puck in close," Crosby said. "A lot of guys might have skated by the net but he saw there was an opening there and he made a good play to poke it through."

For much of the night, Malkin centered a line with Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone.

With just under 14 minutes remaining in the third period, Malkin created a power-play chance for his team by drawing an interference penalty on defenseman Colin White. Crosby nearly put the Penguins ahead moments later but was denied on a sprawling save by Brodeur.

"(Malkin) just played his game, which is what he needed to do," Crosby said. "A lot of times he was able to beat guys with speed and that's just smarts and hockey sense and he has it. I think he can only get better."

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