Evgeni Malkin (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Evgeni Malkin was forced out of Friday’s game against Columbus with an upper-body injury, but the Penguins “don’t know much at this point” about the injury. Malkin, 29, will be out of the lineup Sunday.
With how tight the Eastern Conference wild-card race is, every single point will be crucial for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But following Friday’s game, the Penguins may have to ward off the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers without the services of star Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin, 29, fell injured during the second frame of the Penguins’ Friday tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Little more than a minute into the period, Malkin was skating behind the Blue Jackets’ goal when he collided with Columbus blueliner Dalton Prout. The jolt didn’t look like much, but Malkin went to play the puck before it became apparent his left shoulder or arm was bothering him.
While the play went up ice, Malkin took his time heading to Pittsburgh’s bench:
Malkin didn’t return to the game following the injury, and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t have an immediate answer about the extent of the injury post-game. However, following Penguins practice Saturday, the team announced that Malkin had been sent back to Pittsburgh for further evaluation, and GM Jim Rutherford announced Saturday afternoon that Malkin will miss 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury.
The timing is about as bad as it could get for the Penguins. Pittsburgh has only 15 games remaining in their season and are in a battle for wild-card positioning with the Red Wings and Flyers, a fight that will include one game against Detroit and three contests against Philadelphia. Being without Malkin for the remainder of the season means Pittsburgh is down a key offensive weapon, and losing a game-changing talent won't make holding down a wild-card spot any easier.
Malkin is in the midst of one of the better offensive seasons in the past few campaigns, too. He has 27 goals and 58 points in 57 games and was on pace to notch 73 points this year. That would have been Malkin’s highest point total since his 109-point campaign in 2011-12.