Evgeni Malkin is an acknowledged cheater.

As a teenager, his mom said, Malkin would complain of a sore arm and quit tennis matches against his brother late in a decisive set when defeat seemed imminent.

Since joining teammates' card games on Penguins charter flights, he has bullied his way to wins. All is well if Malkin plays the proper hand, but somebody is at fault if he does not and teammates concede defeat rather than deal with his sharp jabs or sleight-of-hand deals, winger Matt Cooke said.

The surest sign of Malkin's willingness to put himself over, at least in the opinion of his dad, are the nights when he sabotages his girlfriend during games of Narde, a two-player board game similar to backgammon.

"If I lose, I hate everyone, everywhere," Malkin said Thursday night after he scored a goal and recorded an assist in a home win over the New York Rangers his sixth goal and eighth point in six games against the club with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

To be clear: Malkin is cool with cheating if it means not losing.