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Penguins' Crosby to return soon; Malkin out awhile

by Wes Crosby /

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby will return soon, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Monday.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 36 | PTS: 51
SOG: 134 | +/-: 7
Crosby missed the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game because of a lower-body injury sustained against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 10. Since that 2-1 win, Crosby has seven points (three goals), but he has been held scoreless in Pittsburgh's past two games, losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Johnston said Crosby has to wait a certain number of days until he can return after receiving an injection. Crosby has reached that number of days, according to Johnston, and will be available to return sometime shortly after the Penguins play the Winnipeg Jets at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

It is unknown if Crosby will play against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

Center Evgeni Malkin's lower-body injury could require a more lengthy recovery. Johnston said Pittsburgh will not have a timetable for Malkin's return until he begins skating again. Malkin will likely not skate over the next 3-4 days, according to Johnston.

Malkin, whose 19 goals lead Pittsburgh, and Crosby are tied for the Penguins lead in points with 51.

Coming off the All-Star break, Pittsburgh could get back another of its top players; defenseman Kris Letang might play against Winnipeg after missing one game because of a concussion sustained when he was boarded by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo in a 3-2 overtime loss Jan. 20.

Letang, who skated on his usual pairing alongside Paul Martin at practice Monday, said he feels well enough to play Tuesday and expects to return either against the Jets or Capitals.

"Just skating with the team, it went really well," Letang said. "That was the practice we wanted to reach to have no problem with it, and it went well. … [A concussion] is what they diagnosed me for, right during the game."

Johnston said Letang has not been cleared to play in a game, only to practice with limited contact. He said Letang will meet with Penguins doctors Tuesday.

Forward Patric Hornqvist, who is fourth on Pittsburgh with 13 goals, also participated in practice. Hornqvist has missed the past 11 games because of a lower-body injury

"Just from watching him practice, his conditioning looks to be very good," Johnston said. "[He] didn't appear to miss too much out there, so now that he's back in regular practice, he's getting close enough that he can probably play at any time. So, we'll just have to determine that over the next few days."

Forward Blake Comeau, who has not played since Dec. 22 because of an upper-body injury, skated with Hornqvist prior to practice, but Johnston said he is not expected to rejoin the Penguins for another 5-7 days.

Defenseman Simon Despres (illness) said he felt worse Monday than he did Sunday. His status for the game Tuesday is uncertain.

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