UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Penguins winger James Neal made a brief appearance at Penguins practice Saturday at Nassau Coliseum. Center Evgeni Malkin sat that one out.
Neal left Game 1 of the Penguins' first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders Wednesday with what is believed to be an ankle or lower-leg injury. He did not practice Thursday or play in Game 2 Friday but skated before practice Saturday, then came out in full gear with his teammates.
He left after 10 minutes and only a couple of drills.
In keeping with what has been something akin to a cone of silence regarding any player status in the postseason, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not address Neal's short practice or indicate whether there is a chance he will play in Game 3 today.
Malkin, meanwhile, did not practice. He went onto the ice before any of his teammates and, wearing a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers, did a few minutes of stickhandling with a puck.
Bylsma also did not address Malkin's absence but said there could be times in the playoffs when a player is given a "maintenance day" away from practice as happens during the season.
The only other Penguins player not at practice was defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has an undisclosed injury and has not played since April 23, when he left a game with an undisclosed injury.
Crosby feels sharp
A day after his return from missing more than a month because of jaw surgery, Penguins center Sidney Crosby said he felt no ill effects physically.
"I feel good," he said. "It was nice to get that first one over with. I thought that toward the end, I could feel that it was my first game."
Crosby, who had two goals on eight shots, played 23 minutes, 21 seconds.
"I thought [my ice time] would be around there, but. with all the penalties in the first [period], I kind of had more in the second and third.
"I'm kind of glad. It's better to get into it right away, get that first one done with and, hopefully, get better from there."
Homecoming for Murray
For most of the Penguins, the visit to Long Island is just a two-game road trip. For defenseman Douglas Murray, it is a trip home. Well, to one of the places he used to call home, anyway.
Murray spent two years on Long Island in the late 1990s and graduated from the Portledge School in Locust Valley, N.Y., in 1999.
Nielsen enjoys challenge
Islanders center Frans Nielsen has been matched against Crosby a time or two in his career and believes his presence will enhance every shift when he's on the ice.
"It's challenging," Nielsen said. "He's one of the best players in this league. You've got to be aware out there, can't make mistakes, got to be good in all areas 'cause he's going to make you pay."
When the Islanders rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits in Game 2, it marked the first time they overcame a deficit of two or more goals in the postseason since April 24, 1993, when they won Game 4 of their first-round series against Washington, 4-3, in double-overtime after Washington had taken a 3-0 lead.
Before Friday, the previous time the Islanders won a playoff game in regulation after trailing by at least two goals was April 14, 1985, also against the Capitals.
First Published May 5, 2013 4:00 AM