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Penguins notebook: Malkin still isn't sure if he can play Friday

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

Center Evgeni Malkin tested his injured shoulder during an optional practice Wednesday morning. During puck possession drills in which he circled from behind the cage to the half-walls and back, Malkin was bumped by Penguins defensemen.

That marked his first contact since he was injured at Toronto by a hit from Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk on March 9.

Malkin described himself Wednesday as “not 100 percent” and attempted to lower expectations for a return Friday at the New York Islanders.

“Of course, yes, because (I'm) close,” Malkin said. “I (will) try to play Friday, but it's hard to say now because it's just (a) couple days more. We'll see.”

Malkin has missed the last six games. He has played in only three of the Penguins' previous 13 games. They are 11-2-0 over that stretch but only 7 for 31 (22.6 percent) on the power play without Malkin in the lineup. Malkin is considered day to day, coach Dan Bylsma said.

• Defenseman Kris Letang also is considered day to day and could practice Thursday, Bylsma said. “Having skated on his own, it's a possibility,” Bylsma said. “But it's not definitive.” Letang played only the opening period of a home win over Boston on Sunday afternoon. He did not finish because of a lower-body injury. He had not returned to the ice before his workout Wednesday.

• Eight players, including goalie Tomas Vokoun, attended the optional practice at Consol Energy Center: Malkin, Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass, Craig Adams, Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres and Mark Eaton. After that session, the Capitals, who lost to the Penguins, 2-1, Tuesday night, practiced before catching a charter flight for Winnipeg, Manitoba. With their practice scheduled for 1 p.m., several Capitals players and coaches watched the Penguins' session. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin chatted with Malkin. “They fly after practice,” Malkin said, referring to Ovechkin's request for the first and second overall picks from the 2004 NHL Entry Draft to share lunch Wednesday afternoon. “I told him I would wait and we could talk after practice.”

— Rob Rossi

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