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Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin feels better heading into Game 3

Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins takes the ice before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin K. Aller

Evgeni Malkin had some potentially bad news for the Rangers after the Penguins’ morning skate Tuesday before Game 3 of the teams’ first-round series: He feels far more ready to contribute than he was in Game 2 — his first action since March 11.

“Two days very important for me,” the Penguins’ star center from Russia said. “I watched my game and it was so-so, but I talked to coach, too. I think my game is coming back. First game was tough, but I think it’s come back. I hope and I believe today I will play better.”

Malkin spent some of Saturday’s game on a line with Sidney Crosby, meaning he had to play on a wing. Do not look for coach Mike Sullivan to try that again in Game 2. Malkin would prefer to play center, and is expected to do so with Conor Sheary and Eric Fehr as his wings.

“We’re two big guys, same speed and he’s a smart guy,” Malkin said of Fehr. “He’s always working hard. We just play our game. It’s control puck together and use Sheary; he’s flying everywhere and just try to score. It’s a good line.

“Me and Fehr, we’re big guys, play in corner, use body and just go to net and screen [Henrik] Lundqvist and try to score.”

Malkin said he took faceoffs in practice Monday with no problems and already can feel his game coming together after the long layoff.

“I’m skating a little bit more every day,” he said. “My legs, my feet, everything is coming back. I didn’t play a long time and little bit lose my hands. Now it’s all back and I try and control puck today a little bit more, try for my best game.”

New York Sports