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Evgeni Malkin returns vs. Isles

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Evgeni Malkin returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup for Tuesday's 3-0 win against the New York Islanders. He was a game-time decision, according to Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.

"It feels pretty good, and I'm ready to play the next game," Malkin said.

Malkin, who had missed five straight games with knee soreness, skated with the team Tuesday morning at Nassau Coliseum, but Bylsma said he didn't want to tip his hand.

When asked what would be evaluated between the team's morning skate and warm-ups, Bylsma quipped: "I just like to have a secret over you guys."

Malkin played the first two games of the season but had since missed seven of the last 10 games with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. The 25-year-old center missed more than half of last season with the injury before undergoing knee surgery in February.

"Strength-wise and lower-body wise, he's doing very well," Bylsma said. "I think his skating this year that he's demonstrated is stronger than what we saw last year."

The Penguins (7-2-2) have been without star center Sidney Crosby since a season-ending concussion in January, and the team recently suffered a serious blow to its defense as well.

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek suffered a broken right finger Saturday during the team's 4-1 win over the Devils in Pittsburgh. Michalek is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPNNewYork.com.