UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin returned to Pittsburgh’s depleted lineup against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night after missing five games because of a knee injury.
Malkin skated with his teammates Tuesday morning, and coach Dan Bylsma said it would be a game-time decision whether he would play that night. Malkin got the green light, and even took part in the ceremonial pre-game faceoff at centre ice.
Malkin had sat out seven of eight games because of an injured right knee. He had season-ending surgery after tearing two ligaments in the knee against Buffalo in February. Malkin played the first two games of this season, sat out a pair, and then returned on Oct. 13 against Washington and had two assists. He hadn’t played since.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is still sidelined, recovering from a concussion that has kept him out of action since January. Crosby didn’t make the trip to Long Island for the start of the home-and-home series with the Islanders that ends Thursday in Pittsburgh.
In addition to Crosby, the Penguins are also without forward Tyler Kennedy (concussion) and defencemen Zbynek Michalek (broken finger) and Brian Strait (hyperextended elbow).
Michalek was set to miss his first game on Tuesday after he broke a finger on his right hand in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win over New Jersey on Saturday. He is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, but Bylsma said the defenceman won’t need surgery.
Heading into Tuesday, the Penguins’ NHL-high 11th game of the season, Pittsburgh had already lost 39 man-games to injury. The club had the seventh-highest total last season when it lost 350 man-games.