Breathe, Pittsburgh Penguins fans. Center Evgeni Malkin, who was given a maintenance day Sunday, returned to practice Monday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
A second day in a row off the ice might have raised alarms, and rightly so. After all, Malkin has been flying lately after he missed the first three months of the season because of offseason knee surgery.
Malkin has 10 goals, 24 points in 21 games, including five goals, 11 points in the past eight games. He also passes the eye test, playing his recognizable dominant style, and has put a spark into the power play.
However, Malkin looked himself Tuesday after his day away from practice.
Rust To Join 400 Club
Penguins top-line right winger Bryan Rust is scheduled to play in his 400th career game Tuesday.
He has progressed from a bottom-six player several seasons ago to someone who can be trusted to play with the top players in the league.
In his 399 games, he has 118 goals, 255 points. That includes 18 goals, 43 points in 35 games this season.
Rust, 29, recounted his first NHL game:
“The first game was in Columbus. I didn’t play very much. I tried to get into a fight. Tried to get that five-minute major. Didn’t quite get it. But it was fun. Obviously, it’s a game that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Good memory. That was Dec. 13, 2014. He had no points, the four penalty minutes and played 6:02 over nine shifts — or what is about a period’s worth of playing now.
Of course, his progression to where he is now means his future with the Penguins beyond this season is in question, as he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Domingue To WBS
Now that he is healthy, goaltender Louis Domingue has been assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
Domingue seemed on the verge of challenging Casey DeSmith for the backup job behind Tristan Jarry before he sustained a foot injury during a morning skate. In the interim DeSmith upped his game.
Domingue has come out for practice the past couple days as a third goalie, but on Monday he mostly watched from the bench.
Reirden Also Due Back
Center Teddy Blueger isn’t the only game-time decision for Tuesday’s home game against the Florida Panthers.
Assistant Todd Reirden, who had knee surgery coming off the All-Star break following a fall while he was shoveling snow, is expected to be back behind the bench Tuesday. He hasn’t resumed skating apparently, but he helped oversee practice Monday from behind the bench.
Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Reirden is likely to resume his bench duties Tuesday.
Reirden, while he was out, participated as much as possible virtually.
Development coach Matt Cullen also came to town and filled in for Reirden during the early part of Reirden’s recovery.