MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Evgeni Malkin, injured by a Sidney Crosby shot during the third period of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-2 victory at Florida Thursday, is on the ice for the team’s practice at Invisalign Arena this afternoon.
Malkin said after practice that he will be in the lineup for the Penguins’ game against Carolina Sunday at 5:08 p.m. at PNC Arena.
“Oh yeah, for sure, I’ll play tomorrow night,” he said. “I feel not 100 percent, but almost. A little bit hurt, still, a little bruised, but so much better from yesterday.”
He was in his usual spot on the second line, between Danton Heinen and Bryan Rust, during drills and did not appear to experience any difficulty as the workout progressed, as evidence by the video below.
Any question about whether he would skate today probably was answered when the Penguins entered the practice rink after arriving from south Florida, as Malkin was walking without any sign of a limp and, at one point, was carrying an equipment bag in each hand.
Malkin was injured when he was positioned near the Panthers’ net during a power play as the middle of the third period approached as Crosby unleashed a slap shot from the top of the left circle.
The puck struck Malkin in an unprotected area above his right shinguard, then eluded Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Penguins’ seventh consecutive victory.
Malkin, clearly in great pain, dropped to the ice and was helped to the bench, and then to the locker room, a few minutes later.
He did not speak with reporters after the game, but was spotted in a hallway outside the locker room with the area of his right knee heavily wrapped.
That was around the same time Mike Sullivan was telling media members that preliminary indications were that the “preliminary prognosis” in the wake of Malkin’s injury “is positive.”
Malkin is tied with Jake Guentzel for second place in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ scoring race, with 10 goals and 21 assists in 30 games. He centers the Penguins’ No. 2 line, with Danton Heinen (filling in for Jason Zucker, who is injured) and Bryan Rust on the wings.
Criticism for Kapanen
Kasperi Kapanen rebounded from a seven-game stint as a healthy scratch by scoring four goals in his first three games, but has managed only two assists in the past five.
Even more concerning is that the tenacity and intensity he showed after getting back in the lineup has been missing much of the time lately.
“When he first came back, I thought he was playing the game real hard,” Mike Sullivan said. “He was using his speed. He was getting inside the dots. He was taking pucks to the net. I think the last couple, he hasn’t been as noticeable with his speed, and things of that nature.
“We’d like to see him get back to playing that north-south game and leveraging his speed in every aspect of the game, on both sides of the puck. When he does that, he’s a real quality player for us.”
With Malkin in the mix, the Penguins deployed the same personnel combinations they did in Florida: