After being scratched for Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Flyers, Evgeni Malkin joined his teammates for practice on Thursday at Southpointe.
“He's not cleared to play, but as you saw, he took part in the group that we had out there on the ice,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “(We) had the majority of our forwards out there. Participated in the majority of those drills. We'll see how he reacts to it.”
Johnston said it has yet to be determined whether Malkin could play at some point over the weekend. The Pens play Saturday at 2 p.m. in Columbus and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in Philadelphia (which is a change from the original 7:30 p.m. start time).
“I’m hoping (he can play), but I'm not sure,” Johnston said. “It depends on our doctors and trainers and what they have to say today and tomorrow. With anything that's really nagging right now, you want to be careful. You just don't want to aggravate it so it spirals into something that could be longer-term.”
Malkin was held out of the lineup yesterday after a “slight injury” was discovered when the staff was working with him during a maintenance day on Tuesday. Johnston said the injury was not believed to be long-term and that he was considered day-to-day.
Malkin had just returned to game action this past weekend after missing two weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on March 14 vs. Boston, playing in their back-to-back set on March 28 vs. Arizona and March 29 vs. San Jose.
A DAY OFF
The Pens gave a lot of their guys much-needed breaks on Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday marked the second game in a row and third time since March 21 that the Pens have had to play short a defenseman, as the team cannot recall anyone from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton because of salary cap restrictions. So Johnston gave Ian Cole the day off and the remaining four defensemen – Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, Ben Lovejoy and Derrick Pouliot – were dismissed from practice after about 20 minutes.
In addition, forwards Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist – who have also been logging big minutes the past few games – were each given maintenance days.
“As we’ve talked about with our defense, we wanted to give them a little bit of a break today,” Johnston said. “Then they and the forwards that have played 20-plus minutes, we gave them some time off. We’re going to have a full practice tomorrow heading into the weekend’s back-to-back games.”
There were no updates on defensemen Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff.