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Penguins notebook: Goc skates, tests ailing ankle

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 8:51 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin shoots on Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Center Marcel Goc took a step toward recovering from an ankle injury.

Actually, he took several strides.

Goc skated before the Penguins' morning skate in advance of Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. It marked Goc's first time on the ice since injuring his ankle March 27.

The prognosis for Goc's recovery was three weeks. He has not been ruled out for Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Acquired at the NHL trade deadline March 5 , Goc was the third-line center at the time of his injury.

Malkin, Vitale return

As expected, forwards Evgeni Malkin and Joe Vitale returned to the lineup for Game 1.

Malkin sat out the final 11 games of the regular season due to a hairline fracture in his foot; Vitale (mid-body injury) didn't play in the final 13.

Vitale began the game on the fourth line with Craig Adams and Brian Gibbons. Malkin was in his customary spot centering Jussi Jokinen and James Neal on the second line.

“Geno and Nealer both missed some games this year, and whenever they have come back, we found that chemistry pretty much right away,” Jokinen said. “I don't see any reason why we can't do it again.”

During their seventh shift, Jokinen scored off an assist from Malkin, who also assisted on Matt Niskanen's power-play goal in the second period.

Columbus injuries

The Blue Jackets were without right wing Nathan Horton (abdominal), center R.J. Umberger (upper body) and left wing Nick Foligno (lower body).

Horton had surgery April 11 and was expected to miss six weeks, meaning he'd return only if the Blue Jackets made the Stanley Cup Final. Foligno and Umberger could return during this series.

Are you experienced?

Horton won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, but no player in the Blue Jackets' lineup for this series has. Even counting Horton's 43 games of experience with the Bruins, Columbus' roster had 251 career playoff games to its credit heading into Wednesday.

The Penguins have 11 players who have won the Stanley Cup and 1,154 games of postseason experience.

Around the boards

With two off days prior to Game 2 on Saturday, the Blue Jackets planned to travel back to Columbus — via a 31-minute flight — after the game Wednesday. … As expected, the Penguins scratched defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Deryk Engelland and forwards Jayson Megna and Taylor Pyatt. … The Blue Jackets' healthy scratches were defenseman Nick Shultz and Dalton Prout, forward Matt Frattin and goalie Jeremy Smith.

Staff writer Rob Rossi contributed. Chris Adamski and Jason Mackey are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach them at cadamski@tribweb.com and jmackey@tribweb.com.

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