Malkin injured in NHL debut

Pittsburgh rookie Evgeni Malkin was rushed to a New Brunswick hospital in his NHL debut Wednesday night after colliding with Penguins teammate John LeClair.

Pittsburgh rookie Evgeni Malkin suffered an upper body injury and was rushed to a New Brunswick hospital in his NHL debut Wednesday night after colliding with Penguins teammate John LeClair.

The incident occurred early in the second period of Pittsburgh's 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in an exhibition game in Moncton.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero said Malkin will be re-evaluated Thursday in Pittsburgh.

"At this point anything else would be speculation," said Shero. "We'll see how he feels [Thursday], frankly I was happy he got up considering the way he went down."

LeClair crashed into the boards behind the net after missing a scoring chance, violently taking out Malkin in the process. The Russian forward catapulted over LeClair and landed hard on the ice.

Malkin, the second overall pick behind Alexander Ovechkin in the 2004 NHL entry draft, was sprawled on the ice for a few minutes before skating off favouring his left arm.

Malkin, who earned an assist on Sergei Gonchar's first-period goal, headed straight to the locker-room and then went to a local hospital for further evaluation.

The Russian sniper was playing on a line with Mark Recchi —who was also sent to hospital in a separate incident — and Ryan Malone.

The much-hyped Malkin was making his NHL debut after bolting from his Russian pro team last month in Finland.

Malkin, 20, stayed with his hometown Metallurg Magnitogorsk team in the Russian Super League last season because there was no transfer agreement compensating Russian teams who lost players to the NHL.

When a proposed transfer deal fell through again this year, Malkin said he was pressured into signing a one-year contract with his Russian team.

But after he fled the club on Aug. 12 in Helsinki, Malkin's agents faxed a letter of resignation to the Russian team and he came to North America and signed a three-year deal with the Penguins.

Considered the best player not playing in the NHL last year, Malkin is one of the pre-season contenders to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year this season.

Gonchar finished with two goals for Pittsburgh, while Malone, Colby Armstrong and centre Sidney Crosby also scored for the Penguins. Crosby also picked up a pair of assists.

Goalie Jocelyn Thibault made 23 saves to get the win.

Mike Richards scored twice for Philadelphia and Kyle Calder chipped in with three assists.

Jeff Carter and Mark Cullen also tallied for the Flyers, who were missing several of their top players, including forwards Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne.

With files from Canadian Press