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Penguins' Evgeni Malkin set to return Saturday

BOSTON - Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin is scheduled to return to the lineup Saturday when the team hosts the Winnipeg Jets at Consol Energy Center.

Malkin, 29, will have missed nine games with a lower-body injury if he returns Saturday. He skated again Wednesday during the team's morning skate as the Penguins prepare to face the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

"Every day it's better," Malkin said. "It's hard, but I'm progressing every day. I need more conditioning, but I feel pretty good."

The Penguins have gone 5-2-1 during Malkin's absence.

"They've played hard every game," he said.

Barring any setbacks, when Malkin does return Saturday, he's realistic that he still won't be 100 percent when he returns Saturday. He said he'll be fine after playing a few games.

"When you have an injury but you never come back 100 percent," he said. "[I've] missed nine games, and it's a little bit hard. It doesn't matter how you practice, a game is different."

Overall, Malkin has 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 49 games this season. At the time of his injury, he had 19 points in his past 14 games.

"Well, obviously he's a difference-maker," said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. "He's one of the elite players in the world. He was playing really well when he lost him, so to get him back will make us that much stronger. It makes us more difficult to play against from a matchup standpoint, but certainly there's no doubt he makes us a much better team when he's in our lineup."