"Exhibition games are done. It’s real games right now," Malkin said, according to The Athletic's Josh Yohe. "It’s for sure a wake-up call. We need to understand every team is dangerous right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s Buffalo (or) if it’s Washington.
"We need to learn (from) how we played tonight and play better, for sure. Like, 100 percent better.”
Conor Sheary, a former Penguin, opened the scoring for Buffalo just five minutes in, and the Penguins never seemed to find their footing. The Sabres won the possession battle with a 57.45% Corsi For rating and owned an 11-1 advantage in high-danger scoring chances, per NaturalStatTrick.
Malkin, who scored the club's only goal in the 3-1 loss, understands how much every game counts with so many competitive teams in the mix for a postseason berth.
"The season started already," Malkin said. "We need to understand that. It’s not, like, 'Oh, we have 20 games to wake up.' No. It’s already started. Every point’s important. Every year, it’s harder and harder making the playoffs."
Pittsburgh continues its season Saturday at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.