Evgeni Malkin returns to Penguins' practice, albeit in 'no-contact' jersey

Apr. 23—Geno was back on the PPG Paints Arena ice Friday.

Evgeni Malkin participated in the Pittsburgh Penguins practice session at their home rink, the first time he has joined teammates for a full session since suffering a suspected right knee injury during a game March 16. Malkin remains on long-term injured reserve, but his previous on-ice activity had been either during optional morning skates, on his own, with other injured players or alongside members of the Penguins' taxi squad.

Malkin wore a "no-contact" jersey and did not take part in line rushes, both of which typically indicate that a return to the lineup is not imminent. The Penguins play afternoon home games Saturday and Sunday, against the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, respectively.

After practice, coach Mike Sullivan said there was "no chance in status" for Malkin or any of the other Penguins players who have been out because of injury.

But the sight of a two-time NHL scoring champion and 2011-12 league MVP was a welcome one for teammates.

"He's a huge part of this team, obviously, and we are looking forward to having him back for sure," defenseman John Marino said. "We're doing everything we can with (Malkin) out of the lineup right now, but he will obviously help our team in a big way when he comes back, and it'll be great having back in the room, too."

The 15-year NHL veteran has eight goals and 24 assists in 29 games this season but was on an eight-game scoring streak (four goals, eight assists) at the time of his injury early during a home game against the Bruins.

"Just having him back in the room is a boost of confidence for us," goalie Tristan Jarry said. "It shows that he's coming back and he's going to be back soon, and I think that just gives our team that little bit extra. It's going to make our team a whole lot better when he's back."

Also on the ice and wearing a white jersey was fellow center Frederick Gaudreau, who has not played since April 11 because of a lower-body injury.

That left wing Brandon Tanev as the only Penguins regular who was not on the ice for practice Friday. Sullivan said Tanev skated on his own prior to practice with skills coach Ty Hennes.

Tanev has not played since April 3 because of an upper-body injury.

Keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at cadamski@triblive.com or via Twitter .