PITTSBURGH -- Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are two of the world's best hockey players. The fellow Russians both became millionaires by their early 20s. They are former Olympic team roommates and the NHL's top two scorers last season.
But the one-time friends have become cold-as-ice rivals, and their on-ice feud has grown increasingly nasty. Last season, the Penguins' Malkin ducked just in time to avoid a hard drive into the boards from the Capitals' Ovechkin.
The ugliness has moved off the ice, too, with Ovechkin reportedly taking a swing at Malkin's agent in Moscow.
Ovechkin's defended his play by saying that he hits hard against every opponent, although he does not have a reputation among his fellow NHL players for regularly throwing his body around.
Malkin and Ovechkin face each other again Wednesday night.