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Malkin left game in third period, did not return

by Chris Adamski

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 20
SOG: 55 | +/-: -3

PITTSBURGH -- Penguins star Evgeni Malkin left Pittsburgh's 3-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Friday night after sliding into the boards early in the third period.

After twice pointing out that Malkin left the ice under his own power, the only update on Malkin's condition that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma would give after the game was that Malkin was "getting further evaluated this evening. We'll know more tomorrow."

Malkin was skating hard toward the net from the left-wing side when he got tangled up with Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson and slid backside-first into the boards behind the Florida net. Malkin's neck appeared to have been jerked violently as a result of the collision.

"Tough hit," linemate James Neal said. "It's a dangerous spot, the way he goes in. I hope he's OK.

"It [stinks], obviously, seeing Geno go down, but any time any player goes down you just need to adjust and grind out a win -- and we did that."

Malkin was on the ice for more than a minute and was attended to by a member of the Penguins training staff before skating off and walking down the runway toward the dressing room.

"I just finished my check," Gudbranson said. "He was in a vulnerable position, but you can't pass up a hit like that. It's unfortunate he got hurt, but it's one I'll take every time."

Malkin had an assist earlier in the game to give him 21 points in 18 games this season. He had 50 goals and 109 points in 75 games last season, earning his second NHL scoring title and winning the Hart Trophy as League MVP.

Malkin has not missed a game this season. He missed the final two months of the 2010-11 campaign when he sustained a torn ACL as the result of a hit delivered by Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers.

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