But on a night when goals were plenty and no lead was safe, the normally defensive-minded forward did most of his damage at the offensive end.
Malhotra set up Jannik Hansen's tying goal early in the third period, and then scored his second of the game on a power play with nine minutes left to give the Canucks some breathing room in a wild 6-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
"It was definitely a shootout type of game," said Malhotra, who also scored on a short-handed breakaway late in the second. "But once we had that two-goal lead we were able to settle down a little bit. We knew they'd be coming, but we were able to play more simple and keep them outside."
Malhotra banged in a rebound on the second advantage 2:44 later as the Canucks won their sixth straight.
"It always nice to contribute offensively, but more important we kept this streak alive," Malhotra said. "We could have cracked a couple times."
"The best thing we did in the third was start throwing pucks at the net," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Shoot from everywhere and create scrambles that are tough to defend."
It resulted in four third-period power plays after the Canucks had only one in the first two periods. Vancouver's NHL-leading power play converted twice.
"We set ourselves up well and basically limited them to very little, and then we take penalties in the third and gifted a couple of goals," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, refusing to blame the loss on playing for a second straight night. "I don't buy any of that. You've got to give credit to their power play."
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall scored his second goal 1:40 into the third period to put Detroit ahead for a second time. But Hansen put in a rebound two minutes later as Vancouver handed goalie Jimmy Howard his first regulation loss (6-1-1) this season and first in 23 games, dating to last season (19-1-3).
"Just one of those nights," said Howard, who made 28 saves. "You're trying not to let your brain go to mush back there."
Daniel Cleary and Jonathan Ericsson also scored for the Red Wings, who lost for the second time in eight games. They wrapped up a three-game western road swing that included wins in Calgary and Edmonton.
"We have to take the positives out of this trip and figure out what exactly happened in the last 15 minutes of it," defenseman Brad Stuart said.
Up until that point, the Red Wings looked good.
They limited Vancouver to one shot in the first 10 minutes, and after Sedin gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the opening period, the Red Wings responded with quick rebound goals by Cleary and Kronwall early in the second.
Samuelsson tied it 64 seconds later on a deflection from the side of the net for his first goal in eight games against his former Detroit teammates.
Malhotra then gave the Canucks another lead with a short-handed goal, but Ericsson tied it on the same power play with 59 seconds left in the middle period. Kronwall put Detroit ahead with a 40-foot screened shot early in the third.
"Kronwall's goal should have been the game-winning goal," Babcock said. "I didn't think it was that back and forth I just think the puck went in the net all the time. That's way too many goals for both those teams to give up."
Detroit D Nicklas Lidstrom extended his point streak to eight games with an assist (one goal, 10 assists). C Pavel Datsyuk also has an eight-game point streak (four goals and seven assists). ... Vancouver C Rick Rypien returned from a six-game suspension for grabbing a fan in Minnesota. He took the fourth-line spot of Guillaume Desbiens, who broke his right hand in a fight Thursday at Colorado.