CALGARY, Alberta - One step forward, one step back.
The Penguins practiced on Monday afternoon at Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome. Center Evgeni Malkin returned to practice after missing the past two games with an illness. But winger Bryan Rust, who has been on fire lately with three goals in two games, was absent due to an illness.
Both players will be game-time decisions when the Penguins face the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
"(Rust) wasn't feeling well so we kept him at the hotel," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. That's the best I can give you."
Malkin was bedridden for three straight days due to an illness, that included a sore throat, running nose, cough and low energy.
"The last three days I just laid in my bed with nothing to do and drank every day, so much water," he said. "I couldn't do anything because I had no power, no energy."
Malkin said his legs were a little fatigued during Monday's practice, but was overall happy with his energy levels, and hopes to return Tuesday night.
"I'm glad I skated today. I'm still a little bit sick," he said. "It's not fun being sick. I'm happy with how I skated. It was full line, power play. My legs were a little tired. I'm not 100 percent, but I'll try (to play).
"I want to play. Three games before Christmas, it's a long trip. I don't want to stay in my room all day. We'll see (Tuesday), but I can't say right now."
In a slight tweak on the defensive side, Kris Letang and John Marino flipped sides. Both blueliners are right-handed and play on the right side. But Letang was moved to the left side when the two were united.
However, at practice the tandem was flipped with Letang going back to his natural position and Marino moving off to his off-side on the left.
"We're trying to figure out who best fits in that spot given the righties that we have in our lineup," Sullivan said. "We like that pair. We thought we would try this to see if it's more effective."
Marino has played a little on his off-side in college at Harvard. But has not fully played there in the NHL. Letang said the onus will be on himself to help out his rookie defensive partner.
"It's more about the guy that plays with you," Letang said. "As a partner you try to put him in a good situation. As far as the rest, you just try your best."
The Pens used the following workflow…
Aston-Reese - McCann - Kahun