Malkin returns to practice, shoots for Saturday


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Evgeni Malkin. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- For the first time since the start of the season, everyone was accounted for at a Penguins practice.

In addition to all of the players who played last game, the Penguins were joined by Adam JohnsonAlex GalchenyukBrian Dumoulin, and finally Evgeni Malkin.

Johnson, Galchenyuk, and Dumoulin were full participants in practice, while Malkin wore a red no-contact jersey. Malkin switched to a regular black practice jersey midway through practice.

Johnson skated with Joseph Blandisi and Sam Lafferty on an extra fifth line of forwards, Galchenyuk skated on the left side of the second line with Nick Bjugstad and Patric Hornqvist, and Dumoulin returned to his spot alongside Kris Letang on the top defense pairing. Malkin rotated in along with the forward lines.

After practice, Mike Sullivan said that all of the injured players were game-time decisions for Saturday's 1:08 p.m. game against the Oilers at PPG Paints Arena.

"I thought they all looked really good," Sullivan said after practice. "Dumo was full contact, Alex Galchenyuk was full contact, everybody was full contact except for Geno. Geno was the only non-contact jersey. Having said that, I thought Geno looked really strong on the ice. He's been skating with Ty (Hennes), our skills coach, his conditioning level looked pretty good. We'll see where he goes after today."

Malkin said that he hopes to return Saturday against the Oilers.

"I feel okay," Malkin said. "I try to do my best and watch the games, how Pittsburgh plays on the road. ... I want to do my best and come back as soon as possible. I skated last week every day, I feel good. We just see what's going on the next couple of days."

"I miss the ice so much," he said. "I've not played for a long time, all summer, I missed the last three weeks. It's a little hard mentally, but I try to stay positive. I'm trying to focus on doing my best, working hard. I'm glad what I did last week, I hope to be back against Edmonton."

Watching from afar, Malkin said he's liked seeing the style of play the Penguins have been playing, and he's looking forward to joining that and providing more skill and energy.

"I just want to play how coach wants," Malkin said. "Straight line, simple, don't lose puck in the neutral zone. I'm just focused on the right play. I still remember last year, it was so much mistakes. Now I watch how they play every game on TV, I see how the team plays and I learn. I feel like I'm ready to play."


• Monday also marked Dumoulin's return to practice, although he said he skated on Saturday and Sunday with no contact.

"I felt good," Dumoulin said after practice. "With the long trip, it was me, Geno, and Gally a bit here. It's good to be back around the guys and everyone again, it's a good feeling."

Dumoulin didn't disclose how he sustained his injury, but he provided a little more insight.

"It's tough with the back-to-backs," he said. "We don't come in in the mornings, we knew we had to play right away and I was trying to play through something. I just got in warmups and just couldn't do it."

Sidney Crosby, who was struck in the face by a puck in Dallas, was a full participant in practice and his face appeared to have returned to normal.

• Blandisi and Adam Johnson were assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after practice. More on that here.

• The Penguins used the following lines and pairings with Malkin rotating in:

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Alex Galchenyuk - Nick Bjugstad - Patric Hornqvist
Dominik Kahun - Jared McCann - Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Adam Johnson - Joseph Blandisi - Sam Lafferty

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Justin Schultz
Jack Johnson - John Marino
Juuso Riikola - Chad Ruhwedel

• All players were wearing green laces as part of the DICK'S Sporting Goods’ Sports Matter campaign to promote youth sports.

• Jake Guentzel was one of the first players in the locker room, and he walked past the group of reporters, saying "Everybody make sure to talk to Rusty today, take pictures."

Rust, a Notre Dame product, walked in a few minutes later wearing a Michigan hat. He lost a bet to Jack Johnson after his Fighting Irish lost to Johnson's Wolverines, 45-14, on Saturday.

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