Penguins' Evgeni Malkin Out vs. Islanders for Game 1 of 2021 NHL Playoffs

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 16, 2021

Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin plays during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will miss Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs against the New York Islanders because of injury, according to Matt Vensel of the Post-Gazette.

Malkin was considered a game-time decision after reaggravating his knee injury in the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Sabres, per Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Tribune. The issue had limited him throughout the season, and he played just 33 games in 2020-21.

The 34-year-old had eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points for the 37-16-3 Penguins this year. Malkin will be missed, but the Islanders will also be shorthanded at the position. Rookie Ilya Sorokin will get the start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov out.

Eric Hornick @ehornick

Sorokin will be the first #Isles Rookie to start first game of playoff year since Chico did it in both 1975 and 1976. Last Isles rookie to start a playoff game was Jamie McLennan (1994-game 2 vs #NYR)

The Pens drafted Malkin second overall in 2004, and he has won four Eastern Conference titles and three Stanley Cups for Pittsburgh during his career.

His best individual season occurred in 2011-12, when he had 50 goals and 59 assists for a league-high 109 points en route to a Hart Trophy. He also paced the NHL with 113 points in 2008-09.

The Russian, who has made three All-Star games, underwent left elbow surgery last August. He also missed 11 games last season with a soft tissue injury in his leg.

Malkin still finished with a team-high 74 points off 25 goals and 49 assists, but Pittsburgh fell short in the qualifying round in an upset to the Montreal Canadiens.

This year hasn't been quite as smooth for Malkin, but his absence will be significant as the Penguins try to reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2018.