Malkin could return in first round; Fleury a ‘work in progress’

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Evgeni Malkin can’t say for sure when he’ll be able to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup.

But he did shoot a few pucks on Marc-Andre Fleury this morning, and he didn’t rule out a return sometime during the Pens’ first-round series with the Rangers.

Malkin has not played since March 11 due to an upper-body injury that was expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks.

Malkin’s availability in the first round may depend partly on how his teammates are doing versus the Rangers. The Pens took a 1-0 series lead last night, so, for now, the desperation factor is fairly low.

But if the series were to turn against them, Malkin could become extra motivated to get back in there, and the Penguins could become extra motivated to grant his wish.

As for Fleury? He wasn’t sharing any specifics about his status either.

Game 2 goes Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh (on NBC).

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