Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin out long-term with lower-body injury

Two games into a new NHL season and the Pittsburgh Penguins have lost centre Evgeni Malkin for an indefinite period with a lower-body injury.

Malkin tripped over the skate of teammate and defenceman Kris Letang near centre ice at 8:04 of the second period in Saturday’s 7-2 win over Columbus and then collided with Blue Jackets blue-liner Vladislav Gavrikov, falling awkwardly into the boards. Soon after, he was spotted limping down the runway at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh and didn’t return for the third period.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan told reporters Monday that the 33-year-old Russian’s injury is not season-threatening but that he would be out longer than fellow centre Nick Bjugstad, who exited Saturday’s game in the third period with an undisclosed injury.

The 1-1-0 Penguins, who host Winnipeg on Tuesday, are without their second- and third-line centres and had Jared McCann skating on the second line in Malkin’s absence at Monday’s workout while Zach Aston-Reese filled in for Bjugstad.

Malkin, with a goal in Pittsburgh’s first two games, scored 21 goals and 72 points in 68 regular-season games last year.

He walked out to the bench in street clothes about 10 minutes before Monday’s practice and, with two feet on the bench, stickhandled on the ice for less than a minute before returning to the dressing room.

Pittsburgh, with only 10 healthy forwards on Monday, were expected to summon two forwards from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton, Pa., before Tuesday’s contest. Sam Lafferty, Andrew Agozzino and Adam Johnson are among their options.

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