Evgeni Malkin’s first game back from injury could have gone better.
The Penguins center was ejected in the third period of Monday’s 4-1 win at Philadelphia after angrily swinging his stick at Flyers forward Michael Raffl.
Malkin, making his return after a five-game absence due to a lower-body injury, acknowledged the play was “dirty” but insisted the match penalty he received was excessive. He added that Raffl also “played dirty” by punching him in the back of the head.
“I’m not trying to hit his face. … I know it’s dirty, but I missed,” Malkin said after the game, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He just like dived and the referee give me five minutes. [He wasn’t] injured, not bleeding, nothing.
“I don’t know why I’m not playing smart with five minutes left. I know it’s scary, but I didn’t touch his helmet or his shoulder. I gave them a five-minute power play. It’s my fault, for sure.”
Malkin gets punched. Swings his stick at Raffl.
Match penalty. pic.twitter.com/5D3s4TUufS
— hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) February 12, 2019
Malkin’s penalty forced him out of the game and put the Flyers on a five-minute power play with the score at 3-0, though an empty-net goal by Kris Letang and assisted by Sidney Crosby sealed Pittsburgh’s victory and snapped the team’s four-game skid.
The league later announced Malkin, who has never been suspended in his 12-year NHL career, will have a hearing Tuesday.
Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin will have a hearing Tuesday for High-sticking/Slashing Philadelphia’s Michael Raffl.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) February 12, 2019
Malkin, 32, has 14 goals and 42 assists through 51 games this season. He is 14 points away from 1,000 for his career.