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Penguins' Malkin could play in opener

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin practiced Tuesday for the first time since the Stanley Cup Playoffs and said there's a "50/50" chance he could play in the season opener Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks. .

Malkin had not skated with the team due to an undisclosed injury sustained during his offseason workouts. With forward Chris Kunitz absent, Malkin skated on Sidney Crosby's left wing with Patric Hornqvist at right wing during line drills.

Kunitz was held out of practice due to an illness that Penguins coach Mike Johnston said he does not expect to linger. Forward Kasperi Kapanen, who also missed practice, returned to Finland to spend time with his family while the Penguins make a decision on their young players, Johnston said.

Malkin, who began skating on his own Oct. 3, said he felt good and was not tired after a practice that lasted nearly one hour and 20 minutes. He could not confirm if he will be able to play Thursday.

"It's not a big problem, but now it feels great to come back to skate with the team," Malkin said. "Of course I need a little bit more training. I'm glad to be back. I can't say [if he can play Thursday] right now because it's my first practice with the team, but it's 50/50. If I feel I'm in great shape I'll come back. If not, maybe the second game." The Penguins' second game is Saturday at the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC).

For more on Malkin's first practice and his status for the game Thursday, CLICK HERE.

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