Evgeni Malkin C PIT 4 Months

Evgeni Malkin emerged from his postseason scoring slump Monday by netting three goals in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets.

Geno found his scoring touch at the perfect moment, as the Penguins needed every one of his three goals to defeat Columbus and eliminate them from Stanley Cup contention. Brandon Sutter scored the other Pittsburgh marker in the victory.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 4 Months

The Pittsburgh Penguins want Evgeni Malkin to start shooting more.

Malkin has not scored in the series and he is currently in a nine game playoff drought. Malkin had 12 shots on goal in the Penguins first three games but has only two in his last two games with both coming in Game 5. He is now on a line with Sidney Crosby and James Neal and that can only help. "He definitely needs to be a little more selfish and shoot the puck," Neal said. "He's a pass-first guy -- and a great passer, at that -- but sometimes when you're not scoring or getting those chances, you need to focus on getting it to the net. He definitely did a better job of that [Saturday]. He still made great plays, but if you want to score, you've got to shoot the puck."

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 4 Months

Like teammate Sidney Crosby, two-time scoring champion Evgeni Malkin has yet to score a goal in the Penguins' opening-round playoff series against the Blue Jackets.

His slump is at eight postseason games dating to last season. "I know people start to talk about my (lack of) goals," he said. "I try to score very game. I feel good. My line, we play not bad. Sometimes just we need to play simple."

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 4 Months

Evgeni Malkin registered an assist in the Penguins' 4-3 overtime loss to Columbus Wednesday night.

Malkin has no goals and four assists in four playoff games. Sidney Crosby has matched those totals and the Penguins need more from both of them going forward. Well, really, they need to find a way to allow less than three goals in a playoff contest. However, it seems far more likely that Malkin and Crosby will bounce back compared to the odds of Pittsburgh playing sound defensively while simultaneously getting consistent goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 4 Months

Evgeni Malkin regained some confidence in Game 3 on Monday.

Malkin hasn't found the back of the net yet in the Penguins' first round series against Columbus, but he does have three assists in three games. He played alongside Jussi Jokinen and James Neal on Monday and liked how his line played. "We need to just play the same," Malkin said.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 5 Months

Evgeni Malkin is still questionable for Game 1, but took a step in the right direction on Tuesday by officially returning to practice for the first time since sustaining a foot injury on March 23.

Malkin is close to returning, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma would like to see how the superstar center feels on Wednesday before declaring him fit to play in the Pens' playoff opener versus Columbus. "I cant say right now. but I feel great, I skated the full practice, and we'll see (how the foot feels) tomorrow," said Malkin after Tuesday's skate.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 5 Months

Evgeni Malkin (foot) is questionable for Game 1 against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

Malkin skated on Sunday but did not play in the season finale. "I don't have an expectation, nor do I have a definitive answer on what players will be available," coach Dan Bylsma said. Malkin ended the season with 23 goals and 72 points in 60 games.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 5 Months

Evgeni Malkin (foot) skated with team strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar before practice Friday.

It's still unclear if he'll be able to play before the end of the regular season. "If [the best thing] is rest to get ready for the playoffs, then that will be it," coach Dan Bylsma said. "If we get an opportunity to get him back in a game, we'll take it. But we're not going to rush it back just to get him that 60 minutes of hockey." Malkin has been sidelined since Mar. 23 because of a hairline fracture in his foot.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 5 Months

Evgeni Malkin (foot) has started to skate lightly.

Malkin won't be back before the end of the regular season, but the real question is whether or not he will be available for Game 1 of the first round. Malkin is one of the best forwards in the world, so it would obviously be a big blow to the team if he isn't available.

Evgeni Malkin C PIT 5 Months

Evgeni Malkin (foot) is projected to return before the playoffs begin.

He has been sidelined with a hairline fracture in his foot since Mar. 23. That could make him available to return at some point next week.