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Ovechkin, Malkin could be back Saturday

by Dan Rosen /
Alex Ovechkin might be ready to play Saturday night in New Jersey after all. And his Russian counterpart and NHL rival, Evgeni Malkin, could be a welcome addition back into Pittsburgh's struggling lineup when the Penguins host Boston on the same night.

"There's a possibility" is what Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday morning of Ovechkin's chances of playing Saturday at Prudential Center. "He feels great."

Ovechkin skated in the Capitals' morning skate Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and appeared unencumbered for the second-straight day. He said he was "maybe 99 (percent)" ready, but is sitting out Friday's game against Minnesota as precaution.

He has been out since suffering an upper body strain on Nov. 1 against Columbus.

"Let's wait 'til tomorrow for what's going to happen tomorrow," Ovechkin said. "Right now team play well, so I hope they're going to play the same way when I come back."

As for Malkin, who has missed seven games with a shoulder injury, he said he will skate Saturday morning at Mellon Arena before deciding if he can go in the game later that night. He skated on a line in Friday's practice with Sidney Crosby and Ruslan Fedotenko.

"My body is ready and I'm ready to play," Malkin said according to the team's Web-site. "I hope I play. I feel great. I missed seven games. I'm excited to get back. I supported my team in the locker room and on the bench. I miss playing and skating. I've been working out and a couple weeks of rest and I feel great. I think I'm 100 percent."

Ovechkin was playing close to 23 minutes a game before injuring himself halfway through the game against Columbus. Malkin was averaging nearly 21 minutes a game before leaving the lineup after the Oct. 28 game against Montreal.

Both players will likely log the same ice time as soon as they return.

"He was sore for a number of games prior to making the decision to get some rest and eliminate the pain from his game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He has still been able to skate and work out pretty well so I expect him to have a lot of jump and feel better than he did when he stopped playing."

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