Evgeni Malkin apologizes to Penguins fans

The Penguins were embarrassed by the Capitals at home Thursday night.



While the Pittsburgh Penguins are still mathematically alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, their chances of returning to the postseason after having failed to qualify last season are getting more dismal. 

Penguins GM Kyle Dubas alienated longtime captain and franchise icon Sidney Crosby by dealing away his teammate and friend Jake Guentzel to the Carolina Hurricanes after being unable to come to terms on a new contract agreement. 

"(Thursday) night, it’s not a great night for us,” Malkin said at the UPMC  Lemieux Sports Complex. "I want to say sorry to fans because they paid (for) tickets. They come to the rink. And they see this game. It’s not great. We need to play harder for sure.”

Malkin, who was persuaded by former Penguins GM Ron Hextall to stick around two years ago with a contract extension, knows that his team is in a tough situation with him, Crosby and Kris Letang all on the wrong side of 35 years of age. 

“We know it’s tough. It’s not fun,” Malkin said. “It’s 21 games left. We (need to) just play hard, play for the fans.”

“Maybe a couple new guys will give us energy. Who knows?” he said. “Maybe now after the trade deadline the guys will not feel pressure anymore and play a little more relaxed and everybody plays better. Who knows?

“We still believe have not a big chance but we have a chance to make the playoffs.”

Right now, the Penguins are eight points outside of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, and getting back into the race will be nothing short of a tall order.

"We need (to be in a) better mood for sure right now. It’s not easy to play every game. We play against Boston and Edmonton,” Malkin said. “We win (Tuesday) against Columbus, and then we play so bad (against Washington).

“We have great players here, but not a great team right now. We need to help each other and support each other.”

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