MONCTON, New Brunswick (AP) – Evgeni Malkin was injured during his first NHL exhibition game Wednesday night when he collided with Pittsburgh teammate John LeClair early in the second period of the Penguins’ 5-4 win over Philadelphia.

The team said the Russian rookie center was taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Penguins veteran winger Mark Recchi also was sent to hospital after he was hit with a high stick in the first period.

Malkin had just finished making a dazzling pass to LeClair when the veteran winger, after missing a great scoring chance, crashed into the boards behind the net and took out Malkin in the process. The Russian catapulted over LeClair and landed hard on the ice. A hush came over the crowd at Moncton Coliseum as Malkin, the No. 2 overall pick behind Alexander Ovechkin in 2004, lay sprawled on the ice for 3-4 minutes.

Malkin got up and skated off the ice but was favoring his left arm. He headed straight to the dressing room. There was no immediate word on his condition.

Malkin had an assist on Sergei Gonchar’s first-period goal and also displayed a pair of sensational inside-out moves later in the opening period.

The 20-year-old Malkin was making his much-anticipated debut after his controversial departure from Russia, a matter that remains in the hands of lawyers on both sides of the ocean because he signed a contract with Russian club Metallurg Magnitogorsk before also signing a three-year deal with the Penguins.

Gonchar finished with two goals and Sidney Crosby, Ryan Malone and Colby Armstrong also scored for Pittsburgh, 1-1 in exhibition play. Mike Richards scored twice and Jeff Carter and Mark Cullen added goals for Philadelphia in the Flyers’ preseason opener.

Jocelyn Thibault went all the way in goal for the Penguins, making 23 saves.

Robert Esche went two periods in goal for the Flyers, giving up three goals on 22 shots. Rookie Martin Houle then allowed two goals on nine shots.

AP-ES-09-20-06 2121EDT


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