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Ducks' Fowler game-time decision against Penguins

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com

DUCKS (0-0-0) at PENGUINS (0-0-0)

TV: PRIME, ROOT

PITTSBURGH -- Defenseman Cam Fowler participated in the Anaheim Ducks' morning skate Thursday prior to their season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

Fowler, who returned to skating Monday after sustaining a lower-body injury during practice last week, had been listed as day-to-day prior to Thursday. He was the first Anaheim player on the ice Thursday morning and could return to the Ducks' top defensive pairing alongside Ben Lovejoy to start the season.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Fowler is cleared to play and will leave it to him to decide if he is ready. Fowler said he felt good during the skate, but that he is a game-time decision.

"You want to be at 100 percent and you don't want to do any harm to yourself or to the team either," Fowler said. "You have to be at full capacity when you play these games. So, we're going to make sure everything falls into place and we'll see how things go [Thursday]."

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin will also most likely play Thursday.

Malkin, who was sidelined throughout most of training camp because of an undisclosed injury, said Wednesday there was a 99 percent chance he would play in Pittsburgh's first game. He was one of the first players on the ice Thursday.

Pittsburgh did not perform line rushes during its first morning skate under coach Mike Johnston, who said they might not be a common practice during skates, but Malkin did join forwards Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz and defenseman Kris Letang on its top power-play unit.

Malkin began skating on his own Oct. 3 and returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since his injury. He skated to the left of Crosby with Kunitz to the right, then practiced for the second consecutive day Wednesday, skating on Brandon Sutter's right wing with Pascal Dupuis to the left.

"Hopefully the puck's going to be on [Malkin's] stick more than mine," Dupuis said. "He's the guy that we want to get the puck to. He's a shooter … We want him to shoot the puck as well. He can't hesitate out there, just got to put it on net and we'll go for rebounds."

Dupuis, Sutter and Malkin are expected to form the Penguins' second line Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups:

PENGUINS

Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyPatric Hornqvist

Pascal DupuisBrandon SutterEvgeni Malkin

Nick SpalingMarcel GocBlake Comeau

Steve DownieZach SillCraig Adams

Christian EhrhoffKris Letang

Olli MaattaPaul Martin

Rob ScuderiSimon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Beau Bennett (lower body), Robert Bortuzzo (lower body)

Scratched: Taylor Chorney, Andrew Ebbett

DUCKS

Patrick MaroonRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Emerson EtemRickard RakellDevante Smith-Pelly

Matt BeleskeyNate ThompsonTim Jackman

Cam FowlerBen Lovejoy

Francois BeaucheminHampus Lindholm

Clayton StonerSami Vatanen

John Gibson

Frederik Andersen

Injured: Dany Heatley (groin), Kyle Palmieri (ankle)

Scratched: William Karlsson, Bryan Allen, Mark Fistric

Status report: With Bortuzzo (lower body) out of the lineup, Despres is expected to skate alongside Scuderi on Thursday. Maatta, who underwent shoulder surgery in May, most likely will join Martin … Johnston said Pittsburgh will focus on boxing out around the crease to not allow the Ducks' Getzlaf and Perry to gain position … Boudreau did not announce a starting goaltender for Thursday but Gibson, a Pittsburgh native, was the first Ducks goalie off the ice.

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