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Malkin Practices with Team

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin returned to team practice Sunday afternoon at Southpointe, a positive step in his recovery from a diagnosed concussion.

“I feel pretty good, had a good practice on the ice,” said Malkin, who has been cleared for contact in practice. “I skated with the team and used a little contact. I feel good.”

Paul Martin and Evgeni Malkin at Southpointe Sunday

While it is a positive step in his recovery, there is no timetable for a possible return to game action and the team is proceeding with caution.

“It was a good practice, but I need a couple more (before I play),” Malkin said.

“(Malkin has) had a couple sessions on the ice, two days of off-ice workouts where he went hard, today he was cleared for contact,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We saw him go through three drills designed to provide him with that contact. He did well. He still needs to pass an ImPACT test. We’re going on protocol.”

Malkin suffered from memory loss after falling hard into the end boards Feb. 22 in a game against the Florida Panthers. Since he had memory loss, his condition was diagnosed as a concussion, but he hasn’t experienced any headaches.

“I remember the whole game, just not the hit,” Malkin said. “The next six days I felt good. My memory is good, no headaches.”

Malkin was skating toward the Florida goal with Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson. Malkin lost his edge and slammed into the end boards, with his head whipping back violently.

“It wasn’t a penalty; it’s just bad luck,” Malkin said. “I was trying to shoot the puck. I lost my control and hit the boards. It was just bad luck.

“It looked bad, but it wasn’t bad because my neck isn’t sore. I just lost memory. In the highlights it looks bad, but wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

And all things considered, Malkin considers himself lucky.

“It’s good because it wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I feel pretty good right now. We’ll see, maybe I’ll come back soon.”

Note: Defenseman Paul Martin, who has been out of the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury Thursday in Carolina, skated in warmup gear with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar before team practice. Bylsma said Martin is considered day-to-day, but added that he will not play Monday night against Tampa Bay. … The Penguins held an optional skate at Southpointe. Fifteen players took part: Malkin; Beau Bennett; Dustin Jeffrey; Tyler Kennedy; Tanner Glass; Joe Vitale; Craig Adams; Zach Boychuk; Matt Niskanen; Mark Eaton; Simon Despres; Deryk Engelland; Robert Bortuzzo; Marc-Andre Fleury; and Tomas Vokoun. … Bylsma said that Fleury will start in goal Monday night.

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