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Malkin, Ponikarovsky developing chemistry

Evgeni Malkin and Alexei Ponikarovsky have been linemates for only two games but have already started to display early signs of chemistry. Ponikarovsky set up Malkin's game-winning goal Sunday against Boston, and the center seems quite pleased with his new linemate.

Playing with such a large winger seems to intrigue Malkin.

"I like playing with him," Malkin said. "He is long and has a good shot. It's good playing with him. He has played well."

Malkin is not only pleased with his new linemate but likes the direction of the team. The Penguins have won four straight games since the Olympic break, and Malkin noticed a difference.

"Everyone is playing better since the break," Malkin said. "My game is not so bad."

» Sidney Crosby's missing equipment from the Olympic hockey gold medal game has been recovered and returned to the Penguins' captain. Crosby had been missing one of his game gloves and the stick that he used to score his epic game-winning goal against Team USA. The stick and glove are on their way to Crosby. It isn't known how the stick was located, but the glove had been inadvertently placed in forward Patrice Bergeron's equipment bag.

» Right wing Bill Guerin, who had missed the previous three games because of back spasms, practiced again Wednesday and pronounced himself ready to play against the Hurricanes.

» After a miserable start to the season, Carolina is one of the league's hottest teams. The Hurricanes have won eight of nine games and are only nine points out of a playoff spot.

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