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Inside Scoop: Pens' injury updates

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Here are the injury updates from the Pens' Friday afternoon practice at Amalie Arena.

EVGENI MALKIN

Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, joined team practice wearing a red no-contact jersey.

"Pretty good practice for me," he said. "Injuries are always boring, always slow, step by step. But I hope I come back soon. I've already missed four games, it's a lot for me. I want to play. I'm hungry. Work hard every day, but it's a little bit slow. But I hope I'm back soon."

Malkin was injured in Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay on Jan. 30 when Dan Girardi stood him up with a big hit in the first period. He did not get hurt during his fight with Steven Stamkos in the third period. While Malkin felt some pain right away, it didn't really set in until the next morning, which is why he was able to finish the game.

"Girardi hit me on the second shift and I feel pain right away," he said. "I feel it after the hit, but the next day I feel so bad. I knew I had something wrong."

Malkin ruled himself out for Saturday against Tampa Bay, but said there's a chance he could play Monday in Philadelphia. Whenever he does get back, he hopes to pick up where he left off in that game against the Lightning.

That night, Malkin looked like himself for the first time in a long time. He had some dominant stretches and finished with two assists - the first being the 600th of his career - but more importantly, he played with an energy and a passion that had been missing from his game.

"Of course I have great motivation right now," Malkin said. "I look my 1,000 points, too, it's a huge point in my head (Malkin is currently 15 points away from reaching that milestone). I want to finish this year. We want to play in the playoffs, we want to be a great team and we want to get back to the Cup. It's not a secret. We're hungry, we have a great team and we work every day to be the best. I hope 'Schultzy' (Justin Schultz) comes back, I'm back and no injuries before playoffs and we show our best game."

JUSTIN SCHULTZ

Speaking of Schultz, the defenseman remains status quo. He was a full participant in practice and continues to progress in his recovery from a fractured left leg that has kept him out of the lineup since October.

"No steps back, everything's been going well," he said. "So just got to keep doing the same things and be back soon, hopefully."

Schultz reiterated that he is not putting a timetable on a return, saying that taking it day-to-day is all he can do.

"You don't want to rush this and come back too soon," he said. "It's a pretty serious injury, so just trying to feel better every day and get to 100 percent."

He also said that his timing is continuing to improve with each practice.

"Obviously nothing can really simulate a game, but just got to keep working hard in practice and keep getting ready for when I eventually do come back," he said.

MATT MURRAY

Matt Murray was also a full participant in practice. The goaltender missed Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to Florida with an upper-body injury. 

After missing practice on Wednesday afternoon, he went to the rink and skated without taking shots on Thursday morning before progressing to "full go" today. When asked if he could play on this road trip, Murray responded in the affirmative.

"I wouldn't have skated today if I didn't feel good," he said. "Progressing well."

ZACH ASTON-REESE

Like Malkin, Aston-Reese also joined practice wearing a red no-contact jersey.

"It feels really good," he said of being with his teammates. "It's always a little weird doing 1-on-1 skates and skill stuff. That's not really my game (laughs), doing all that skill stuff. But it's definitely good and I felt good today. My lungs felt good, cardio felt good, legs felt good. It's just a matter of a week or two."

Unlike Malkin, Aston-Reese did get hurt in a fight, with Florida's Colton Sceviour in Pittsburgh's 5-1 win over the Panthers on Jan. 8. Though he didn't sustain the injury from an actual punch.

"The doctor said he thinks it's from being fallen on, but I just remember getting in the box and I thought it was just a bruise or something," Aston-Reese said. "But then sure enough, I got an X-ray and it wasn't good news. So I really don't know how. I don't know if it was like tied up in his jersey or I fell on it."

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