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Malkin, Bonino Plan to Return Saturday

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bonino could both return to the lineup as early as Saturday when the Pens host the Winnipeg Jets.

The tandem joined the team for practice on Tuesday and took part in the morning skate on Wednesday.

“They feel strong. They responded well,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “Baring any unforeseen setbacks moving forward, we’re hopeful that we’ll get them on the weekend.”

And returning to the lineup on Saturday is the team’s current plan.

“That’s the plan. I’m trying,” Malkin said. “We have time. I want to be back as soon as possible. It’s the plan to come back home and play against Winnipeg.

“Everyday is better. It’s hard, but every day it progresses. I need a little more conditioning.”

Malkin has missed the past nine games with a lower-body injury, while Bonino has been out for the last 16 with a hand injury.

The addition of both, especially Malkin, who was the team’s leading scorer with 25 goals and 56 points at the time of his injury, would be a huge boost to the team’s lineup.

“He’s a difference maker. He’s one of the elite players in the world,” Sullivan said of Malkin. “He was playing really well when we lost him. To get him back will make us that much stronger. I think it makes us more difficult to play against from a matchup standpoint. There’s no doubt he makes us a better team when he’s in our lineup.”

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