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Pens/Flyers Game 6 Preview: Hornqvist coming back, Malkin status unknown

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Identical statements by Sullivan could mean 2 separate things for two Pens stars

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan made an identical comment about the statuses of Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin for Game 6 tomorrow, but at this point each individual’s situation could be nothing alike.

Hornqvist, out for the last 2 games, took part in the practice today in Pittsburgh and was on his normal power play spot. And not a moment too soon, the Pens are just 1 for 9 on the power play without Hornqvist including 0 for the last 8. It’s “officially unofficial” but all signs are pointing to the Pens winger playing tomorrow.

Malkin, on the other hand, lingers with more unknown. He was the only absence from practice today. He suffered an injury late in the 1st period and briefly left the game until the start of the 2nd period. He did return and play the rest of the game last night, but his leg didn’t look too pretty.

If Malkin can’t go, here’s our prediction on how the Pens will line-up for Game 6.

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin - Derick Brassard - Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary - Riley Sheahan - Bryan Rust

Zach Aston-Reese - Carter Rowney - Tom Kuhnhackl

(Dominik Simon healthy scratch, Malkin injury scratch in this scenario)

-Obviously nothing is written in stone and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Rust and Kessel switch spots at times either, as needed. Getting the now-healthy Rowney back into the lineup isn’t anyone’s ideal but if Malkin is hurt Pittsburgh would be down to just four healthy centers, and well, Rowney is the next man up.

For what it’s worth, Sullivan said Malkin was “fine” last night after the game, though this time of year that may or may not be worth reading into. The proof will be in the pudding tomorrow afternoon and we’ll either see Malkin try to give it a go, or not. The Pens are up 3-2 in the series and looking to close it out.