After an off day for travel yesterday, the Penguins took a morning skate in New York today ahead of Game 3 tonight. Their lines were different, in a good way. Evgeni Malkin rejoined the group today for line rushes:
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This was the lineup the team was hoping to have to start the playoffs, it shifts Frederick Gaudreau to wing and bumps Evan Rodrigues out as a healthy scratch. Jared McCann sticks with Jeff Carter, which means a good opportunity for Jason Zucker — who has been fairly quiet and limited starting the series on a line with Gaudreau and Rodrigues. It’s a big step up for Zucker, and Pittsburgh will be looking for a lot more out of him now.
Malkin also jumped on today to practice with the top power play group of Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust — another very telling and very positive sign.
Malkin suffered a knee injury in mid-March and returned for the final four games of the regular season, but appeared to suffer a tweak or glitch in the last game on May 8th. He’s missed the first two playoff games, but has been on the ice in various forms over the past week or so.
Coach Mike Sullivan isn’t joining in the fun by confirming anything just yet. As you would expect at this time of year, all players are officially game-time decisions as to whether or not they will play.
But pre-game signals are pointing strongly to Malkin making his 2021 playoff debut tonight for the Penguins.