Malkin week to week for Penguins because of lower-body injury

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Evgeni Malkin is week to week for the Pittsburgh Penguins because of a lower-body injury.

The center was hit by Boston Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi at 6:42 of the first period during a 2-1 loss Tuesday. Malkin returned to the bench at 12:29 of the first but went to the locker room again after taking part in a power play that began at 13:13. 

Malkin, who played 3:43 on Tuesday, entered the game with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in an eight-game point streak. He was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Wednesday and will miss at least the next two games, starting Saturday when the Penguins visit the New Jersey Devils (1 p.m. ET; MSG+, ATTSN-PT, SN1, NHL.TV).

“Obviously, when you lose ‘Geno,’ it’s a tough loss from our standpoint for everything that he brings to our team,” coach Mike Sullivan said Friday. “But we’re certainly encouraged that we’ll get him back hopefully in a timely fashion.

“He’s developed a lot of chemistry with [forward Kasperi Kapanen] and those guys have been really good for us. We’re hopeful we’ll get him back here in a timely fashion and he continue to build on the progress that they made.”

Malkin is third on Pittsburgh in scoring with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 29 games. The Penguins (18-11-1) are third in the MassMutual East Division, one point ahead of the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I think it’s just, it’s some adversity we’re facing when you lose a guy like ‘Geno,'” defenseman Kris Letang said. “But there’s an opportunity for guys to step up in bigger roles, and show what they can do in those moments. At the end of the day, we have to play the same way. We can’t start changing anything. When we lose a guy, we have to play the same team game.”

Kapanen, in his first season with Pittsburgh after being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Aug. 25, 2020, is tied for fifth on the Penguins with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 27 games. He has at least one point in six of his past seven games.

Jared McCann, who has missed six games with an upper-body injury, skated as second-line center at practice Friday and could return and take Malkin’s spot in the lineup.

“I’m not going to overthink it too much, to be honest with you,” McCann said. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game. 

“I’m a natural center. I’ve been playing the wing a lot this year, but I feel like once you’ve played center, you’re kind of able to play every position. But moving forward, I’ve got two great linemates to play with in [Kapanen] and [ Brandon Tanev ]. We have some good chemistry together already this year.”

NHL.com independent correspondent Wes Crosby contributed to this report

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