Evgeni Malkin has returned to practice for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the star forward will not play on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Malkin was able to rejoin the team for practice on Tuesday, but he will "not be available" for the game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Malkin has been out with a lower-body injury for the Penguins, and has missed the last nine games. Malkin will miss his 10th straight game on Wednesday, but his return to practice means he should be back in the lineup soon.
Coach Mike Sullivan said that Malkin "looked strong" and that he is "much closer" to returning to the ice for the team. After playing on Wednesday the Penguins do not have another game until Saturday, which could give Malkin enough time to get back into game shape. Malkin wore a yellow- no-contact jersey for the portion of practice he participated in, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Malkin has not played for the Penguins since Feb 2.
The Penguins have not been hurt too much with Malkin out of the lineup, as the team has gone 6-3-1 in the games that he has missed. Malkin has been productive while healthy this season, putting up 49 points in 49 games played. According to NHL.com, Malkin worked in practice with the main power-play unit along with Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang.
Sullivan previously said that Malkin would need to get practice time in before returning to the starting lineup. Center Nick Bonino was also able to practice after being out of action since Jan. 12 with a hand injury for the Penguins.
"The fact that we've been able to play some good hockey, climb in the standings, I think it says a lot about this team," center Matt Cullen said to the Review.
The team is currently in the second wild card position with 68 points and a 30-20-8 record.