Center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang practiced with the Penguins Thursday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center and both are possible to return to the lineup Friday night against the NY Rangers.
Letang, 26, took part in practice for the first time since suffering an injury to his left elbow Dec. 13 vs. New Jersey. He had surgery on the elbow to “clean it out and make sure it was fine.”
Letang, who has been limited to 24 games this year due to injuries, had to wear a cast from Dec. 16-27, which caused his arm to stiffen and lose strength. But now he has full range of motion in his arm and regained his strength.
“I’m fine right now,” Letang said. “Strength and everything is good.”
“(Letang) has been skating for the past three (days) quite extensively,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’ll see where he goes for tomorrow’s game.”
Malkin, who has missed the past eight games with a lower-body injury, has been practicing with the Penguins since Dec. 27 and said he might be ready to play Friday night.
“Today was a good practice with the whole team and did a little bit of power play, too,” Malkin said. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. It was a hard practice for my legs today.
“I started battling in the corner. Tomorrow I’ll skate with the team and we’ll see. Maybe.”
The final obstacle for Malkin is dealing with the pain while regaining his strength.
“If I feel no pain it’s ready to play,” Malkin said. “I’m just a little bit weak and a little bit painful.”
CONNER OUT 6-8 WEEKS
The only missing regular from Pittsburgh’s Thursday practice was forward Chris Conner. He injured his hand Tuesday in New Jersey and the injury will require surgery. The recovery time is expected to be 6-8 weeks.
The Penguins claimed forward Taylor Pyatt off waivers from the NY Rangers. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound forward is expected to arrive in Pittsburgh this evening.
“Being able to add an NHL player and forward at this point in time with our roster and injury situation is key,” Bylsma said. “Taylor has played a long career. He’s been a guy who played well in Vancouver, Phoenix and for the Rangers in parts of last year. This year he hasn’t been able to get footing there and be a factor.
“We’re looking to add an NHL forward with size to our lineup and have him come in and do that.”