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Injured Malkin, Bjugstad out ‘longer term’

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Nick Bjugstad. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Injured centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad will be out "longer term," Mike Sullivan said after practice today.

Both sustained unspecified "lower-body" injuries during the Penguins' 7-2 victory against the Blue Jackets Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.

"We would expect (Malkin) to be (out) a little bit longer," Sullivan said.

Jim Rutherford said he expects to recall a couple of players from the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre this afternoon, but that no decisions have been finalized yet.

The players they bring up are expected to be forwards, although Sullivan did not rule out the possibility of dressing seven defensemen when the Penguins face Winnipeg Tuesday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.

Malkin was injured during the second period, when he tripped over teammate Kris Letang in the neutral zone and went into the boards, where he was checked by Columbus defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov.

Malkin appeared in the doorway leading from the locker room to the ice shortly before the practice began. He was wearing hockey underwear and shot a puck or two down the ice -- perhaps to test a stick -- and then returned to the locker room area.

Bjugstad left Saturday's game in the third period.

Malkin, who has repeatedly stated his intention to rebound from a disappointing performance in 2018-19, was off to a strong start this season and scored the Penguins' only goal during their 3-1 loss to Buffalo in the season opener.

He has been centering Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Tanev on the No. 2 line, the Penguins' most consistently effective forward unit during the early days of the season, and working on the No. 1 power play unit.

Jared McCann replaced Malkin on the second line at practice and is expected to be there against the Jets.

Bjugstad has been in the middle of the third line and has gotten some work on both special teams. It could not be determined who filled in for him at practice because the Penguins had only three lines participating, and the third of those had four members.

Sullivan said that Dominik Kahun, who has been playing on the wing, is one of the candidates to move to center with Malkin and Bjugstad unavailable.

The Penguins are 1-1, while the Jets are 1-2 and coming off a 4-1 loss on Long Island Sunday night. They will be closing out a four-game road trip.

Winnipeg had to deal with a "friendly-fire" injury of its own, as defenseman Josh Morrissey was a late scratch for the Islanders game after colliding with an unidentified teammate during pregame warmups at Nassau Coliseum.

Morrissey practiced today, however, and is expected to play against the Penguins.

However, Jets coach Paul Maurice told reporters that defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will miss the game because he is dealing with a personal matter.

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