While the hosts matched their illustrious visitors in the first half, Barcelona romped away after the break as they won their 10th league game of 11.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring before an unfortunate Rodriguez Yoel own goal and a fierce strike by Cesc Fabregas guided Gerardo Martino's team to victory which means they have taken 31 from a possible 33 points this season.
Decisive interventions from goalkeepers Willy Caballero and Kiko Casilla meant an action-packed game between Espanyol and Malaga ended goalless.
Casilla made three vital saves as visitors Malaga marginally enjoyed the better of the chances - but Argentinian stopper Caballero prevented the hosts from nicking it at the end, making himself big to deny Sergio Garcia.
Neither side have been renowned for their attacking fervour this season and both went into the game after humiliating defeats, with Espanyol beaten 3-0 at Levante and Malaga thrashed 5-0 at home by Celta Vigo.
The point keeps Espanyol in eighth while Malaga leapfrogged Celta to 15th.