Home NHL NHL Buzz: Malkin skates for Penguins for first time since injury – NHL.com

NHL Buzz: Malkin skates for Penguins for first time since injury – NHL.com

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Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin skated on his own Wednesday, the first time he was on the ice since sustaining a lower-body injury March 16, but the forward is considered week to week.

Malkin was injured on a hit by Boston Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi in the first period of a 2-1 loss.

“It’s huge. It’s a big step,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Knowing how important he is to this team and just the amount of guys that we’ve seen go out here lately, it’s always great when you hear that guys are progressing. It’s the same with [Malkin].

“So it’s a big step, and we’ve been battling pretty hard here with guys out of the lineup. We have to continue to do that.”

The Penguins also are without forwards Brandon Tanev (upper body), Teddy Blueger (upper body) and Kasperi Kapanen (lower body).

Malkin did not travel with Pittsburgh on their six-game road trip. They will play the fourth game at the New York Rangers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).

The Penguins have lost their past two games by a combined score of 15-9 but are 6-3-1 without Malkin.

Pittsburgh (24-13-2) is third in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, four points behind the division-leading Washington Capitals and New York Islanders. The top four teams in the division will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Wes Crosby

Dallas Stars

Rick Bowness is out of NHL COVID-19 protocol and the coach has been cleared to rejoin the Stars after a false positive COVID-19 test.

“I get it,” Bowness told the Stars website. “The safety of our people is first and foremost on everyone’s mind. NHL protocol is very strict for a reason. You see what is going on in Vancouver (19 players on COVID-19 protocol list) and some of these other places, so I get it. A false positive is very frustrating, but it happens.”

Dallas will play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, BSSW+, NHL.TV).

The 66-year-old was in quarantine in North Carolina after he was pulled before the third period of a 1-0 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday due to protocol. Assistant John Stevens replaced Bowness against the Hurricanes and coached the Stars in a 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks on Tuesday.

“I left the coaches alone,” Bowness said. “If you’re not on the bench, it’s an easy game from the TV. That’s one thing I realized last night: ‘Man, this is an easy game to play when you’re watching.’ It’s not so easy when you’re on the ice or behind the bench.”

The Stars (13-14-10) are seventh in the eight-team Discover Central Division. The top four teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“Listen we know where we are,” Bowness said. “We’ve put ourselves here and we can’t keep saying, ‘We’re close, we’re close.’ We’re going to run out of games here unless we get a little bit of a streak going. [The Nashville Predators are] three games above .500, we’re one game below .500. Right now, we’re behind and we have to win some games to close that gap. You have to help yourself, and we’re in position to help ourselves.” — Tracey Myers

Minnesota Wild

Zach Parise returned for the Wild when they played the Colorado Avalanche. 

Parise had been in NHL COVID-19 protocol and missed seven games. He was cleared to return Friday and had been skating daily since. 

The 36-year-old forward had scored 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 29 games.

“I’m excited to play again,” Parise said Wednesday. “[The timing] wasn’t ideal. I thought I played some really good games before [COVID-19 protocol], so the timing wasn’t great, but what can you do? That’s what I was dealt with so here we go.

“I’m looking forward to playing again.”  

Mats Zuccarello also returned to the lineup; he missed two games with a lower-body injury. The forward had scored 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 24 games. 

“We’ve seen it with a lot of different players when they’ve had time off because of injury, because of COVID, what have you, they’re able to come back and have fresh legs,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “So anytime that happens, sure we want a boost, but our entire group should be ready to go.” — Jessi Pierce

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