PITTSBURGH - New locker-room humorist Evgeni Malkin is making fun of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates in two languages, and they are loving it.
Sidney Crosby doesn't have a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals, yet he's smiling, too.
The yuk-it-up Penguins trail the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, two games to one, going into Game 4 tonight, but it was difficult to tell from their off-day levity that they weren't ahead.
They aren't acting at all the way they did when they were down a game in this same situation last year, against the same opponent. And it's certainly not because Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, who is capable of winning a game at both ends of the ice, expects to play after sitting out six games with a foot injury.
Yesterday, Malkin repeatedly made fun of teammate Max Talbot, whose two goals during Pittsburgh's 4-2 win in Game 3 on Tuesday included one into an empty net.
Malkin did it in English, too, rather than the native Russian that the NHL regular-season scoring champion used before this season, with defenseman Sergei Gonchar acting as his interpreter.
Malkin: "I'm seeing how Max plays, it's a lot of emotion . . . and a little bit bad hands. He has a lot of scoring chances, but [does] not score. Just empty net."
Later, teammate Bill Guerin said: "People think he is a quiet guy. But he's got a great sense of humor to him."
A good set of hands, too. Malkin has 33 points, the most in the NHL playoffs since Joe Sakic had 34 for Colorado in 1996.