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Evgeni Malkin on track to return to Penguins lineup tonight vs. Sabres

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, 12:45 p.m.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin plays against the Oilers Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 at PPG Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin plays against the Oilers Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 at PPG Arena.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Evgeni Malkin is on track to make his return to the Penguins lineup Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Malkin was a full participant in morning skate after missing the four previous games with an upper-body injury.

“He'll be a game-time decision, but he looks pretty strong right now,” coach Mike Sullivan said.

Malkin is off to a fairly strong start to the season, recording seven goals and 21 points in 22 games.

Based on Thursday's practice combinations, he is expected to return to his customary spot centering the second line with Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel as his wingers.

Tristan Jarry is expected to start in goal.

The Penguins also made a minor personnel move Friday morning, sending winger Josh Archibald to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a conditioning assignment.

Archibald remains on the NHL roster while on the assignment, which can last no longer than two weeks, and the move does not affect the Penguins' salary cap. It's just an opportunity for a little-used player to see game action.

Archibald has been a healthy scratch for 24 of the Penguins' first 26 games this season.

“Archie's been a great pro. He's done everything within his power to give himself a chance,” Sullivan said. “It's just hard sometimes when you don't get in game action. When we do put him in, if you haven't played in a while, it's really difficult to simulate the intensity of game situations in a practice environment. We thought it would make the most sense to give him an opportunity to get in a bunch of games.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton plays three games in three days this weekend, hosting Milwaukee and Rochester before visiting Hershey.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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