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Penguins notebook: Malkin, Letang still day to day

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Penguins winger Trevor Smith skates in his first game with the team against the New York Islanders on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
By Josh Yohe
Friday, March 22, 2013, 7:27 p.m.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Center Evgeni Malkin (right shoulder) and defenseman Kris Letang (lower body) made the trip to New York and participated in Friday's morning skate. However, coach Dan Bylsma still has both labeled as “day to day.”

Neither Letang nor Malkin has suffered a setback. In fact, both stayed on the ice for quite some time following the morning skate working out extensively with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

There remains a possibility that both could be in the lineup when the Penguins return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night.

Bylsma downplayed the suggestion that there was no need to rush Malkin and Letang back into the lineup because of the Penguins' standing atop the Eastern Conference.

Specifically concerning Malkin, who said earlier in the week that he wanted to play against the Islanders, Bylsma simply said the league's reigning MVP will play when he's ready.

“It (the team's place in the standings) really has no bearing on whether he plays,” Bylsma said. “While close, he's not there yet. We're going to take our time with the injury.”

• The Penguins recalled forward Trevor Smith from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He replaced right wing Tyler Kennedy, who was scratched with an unknown injury. Smith has been the most productive forward in Wilkes-Barre this season, putting up 41 points in 63 games. He has a limited amount of NHL experience, scoring three goals in 23 games during previous stints with the Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning.

• Left wing Matt Cooke clearly is still feeling the effects from a blocked shot last Saturday against the New York Rangers. Cooke has not missed a game since but is not 100 percent. He was listed as a game-time decision before playing last Sunday against Boston and did not participate in morning skates before games against Washington and the Islanders.

• Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was again a healthy scratch. He has not played since Feb. 28 in Raleigh, N.C., which was the game before the Penguins began their longest winning streak of the season.

— Josh Yohe

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