Penguins notebook: Mysterious ailment sidelines Malkin



Everything looked normal Thursday for Penguins center Evgeni Malkin at the start of a game-day skate. He warmed up, took part in line rushes in his usual second-line spot.

Then, 10 minutes into the skate, he grabbed his extra sticks and retreated to the locker room.

Coach Dan Bylsma later announced that Malkin is out on a day-to-day basis because of an unspecified injury.

Malkin missed a game Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks at Consol Energy Center. Going into the game, he ranked second in the NHL with 37 points in 29 games, one point behind teammate Sidney Crosby.

Malkin, who is three points shy of 600 for his career, recently has heated up. He had a nine-game points streak (four goals, 15 assists) and was the league’s No. 2 star for November after collecting 21 assists, 25 points.

Bylsma noted, with a bit of a barb, that Malkin also drew attention for a 15-game goal drought over the course of a month before breaking out of it Nov. 22.

“[Malkin’s] month of November has been — at least from the media’s aspect — maybe the least spectacular month of anyone’s career,” Bylsma said. “There was a lot of heat, pressure and question marks for the first 20 days of that month.

“He quietly put up multi-point and -assist games during the early part of that month and played maybe his best game [Nov. 18] against Anaheim, where he didn’t get a point. He certainly caught fire at the end of the month in terms of being noticed.”

Kobasew returns

With Malkin out, the Penguins activated forward Chuck Kobasew from injured reserve, and he was in the lineup after missing 17 games because of a left foot or ankle injury.

Kobasew had been practicing for a few days and said after the game-day skate that he was ready to go as soon as the coaches decided they wanted him back in the lineup.

“The last couple of days I’ve felt really good,” he said.

Before the game-day skate, defenseman Rob Scuderi and winger Tanner Glass skated.

It was the fourth time skating for Scuderi. He had surgery after his left ankle was broken Oct. 26 at Toronto.

“His last two have been more rigorous,” Bylsma said of Scuderi’s on-ice workouts.

Scuderi has not been using crutches, a brace or any other means of extra support off of the ice and appears close to returning to practice.

Glass missed his sixth game because of a broken right hand.

The Penguins’ healthy scratches were forward Zach Sill and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.

TK tribute

Former Penguins winger Tyler Kennedy, who was traded to San Jose in June, was on the visiting bench as the Penguins were starting to trickle onto the ice for the game-day skate. Several stopped to shake hands and share a laugh with Kennedy.

The Penguins ran a tribute to Kennedy during a first-period stoppage in play. The game was his 400th in the NHL

World junior happenings

There apparently hasn’t been a decision made regarding Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and whether he might be allowed to play for his native Finland at the IIHF world junior championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden.

Maatta indicated that he’s staying focused on being an everyday NHL player.

Meanwhile, forward Riley Barber, a former Pittsburgh Hornets player and a Washington Capitals prospect, was invited to the United States national evaluation camp for the world junior championships.

Also invited was forward Ryan Fitzgerald, a Boston prospect who is the son of Tom Fitzgerald, Penguins assistant to the general manager.

Forward Oskar Sundqvist, a Penguins third-round draft pick in 2012, was invited to Sweden’s selection camp.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.

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