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Penguins' Malkin will return to lineup vs. Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

PENGUINS (28-14-8) at OILERS (14-28-9)


EDMONTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will return to the lineup Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Malkin missed the past five games with a lower-body injury. He will play on a line with Patric Hornqvist and former Oilers forward Mark Arcobello.

"He [Malkin] looked good yesterday in practice, he went out there again this morning," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "He was cleared, took some contact yesterday in practice, so he looks fine."

David Perron will also play his first game in Edmonton (14-28-9) since being traded to Pittsburgh (28-14-8) on Jan. 2, in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Perron expects a tough challenge from the Oilers, who are 7-6-2 since interim coach Todd Nelson took control exclusively after Dallas Eakins was fired on Dec. 15.

"They've been working really hard, you can tell they're enjoying it, talking with the guys yesterday," Perron said. "They just came back from the road and they're going on another big road trip, so they'll want to give the fans a good performance and try and keep going in the same direction that they've been going in the last little while."

Perron has six goals and three assists in 12 games with the Penguins playing on a line with Sidney Crosby.

Perron scored five goals and 14 assists in 38 games with the Oilers before being traded.

"David has a good stick and can make a play," Johnston said. "He can make a play in traffic, he takes the puck to hard areas, and the other thing is that he can score and get open."

Perron has gone from a rebuilding team in Edmonton to a Stanley Cup contender in Pittsburgh.

"It's just the confidence, it's nice to come in and there is no panic in the group," Perron said. "We haven't had the month of January that we expected, but there is still no panic in the room and everyone is ready to go. We all know how to win, we just have to be on board together and everyone is."

Edmonton will be without forwards Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot. Hall re-aggravated a leg injury in a 5-4 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Pouliot took a shot off the foot in the same game. They are listed as day-to-day.

The Oilers called up forward Iiro Pakarinen to take Hall's place on the top line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

"In the case of Iiro coming up, I know where he's succeeded in Oklahoma City," Nelson said. "I put him in a spot on the power-play unit where he has succeeded, it was a natural fit for him. He has been playing our system, so it's a pretty natural transition for him. All he has to do is come out and play hard and put forth a good effort."

Goaltender Viktor Fasth will start for Edmonton. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will start for the Penguins.

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyDavid Perron

Mark ArcobelloEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Nick SpalingBrandon SutterSteve Downie

Zach SillMaxim LapierreCraig Adams

Paul MartinKris Letang

Rob ScuderiSimon Despres

Derrick PouliotRobert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Beau Bennett, Scott Harrington

Injured: Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), Olli Maatta (illness), Blake Comeau (wrist), Christian Ehrhoff (head)


Iiro Pakarinen - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Derek RoyTeddy Purcell

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Rob Klinkhammer

Luke Gazdic - Anton LanderMatt Fraser

Jeff Petry - Andrew Ference

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Keith Aulie - Mark Fayne

Viktor Fasth

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: None

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen), Taylor Hall (leg), Benoit Pouliot (leg), Nikita Nikitin (shoulder)

Status report: Pakarinen played five games with Edmonton earlier this year, scoring a goal. He'll take Hall's spot on the Oilers top line. Fasth (5-11-2) has yet to win at home this season. All his victories have come on the road. Scrivens (9-17-7) has yet to win on the road. All his victories have come in Edmonton.

Who's hot: Eberle has three goals and an assist in his past two games. … Perron has six goals in 12 games with Pittsburgh. He scored five goals in 38 games with Edmonton.

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