Penguins star Evgeni Malkin is happy to be here for Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Rangers, in part because he was out for a month until returning for Game 2 and in part because the game will be played at the Garden.

The Russian has made it clear more than once during the series through his fractured English that he is a big fan of the Big Apple.

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“I love New York,” he said after the morning skate Thursday. “I love this city. I love fans. I love crowd here. It makes atmosphere.”

Malkin said he continues to get back into the swing of things after his long layoff.

“Yeah, of course, I try to skate every day,” he said. “I feel a little stronger every day.”

After Malkin began Game 3 with Conor Sheary and Eric Fehr on his wings, Sheary was replaced by Chris Kunitz during the game. That is expected to be the line with which Malkin starts Thursday night’s game.

“Last game we played together and tonight we play together again,” he said. “I think we have great line there.”