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Stanley Cup Final

Sharks could be without Hertl for Game 3

First-line forward didn't practice Friday; coach says 'he's got a little something'

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks might be without first-line forward Tomas Hertl for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Hertl, dressed in sweats, skated briefly -- and slowly -- Friday morning, but he left the ice when practice began. He appeared to have a wrap or pad on his lower left leg.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said it was a "maintenance" day for Hertl.

"He's got a little something," DeBoer said. "We kept him off."

DeBoer was asked if he expected Hertl to play in Game 3.

"We'll make all lineup decisions day of the game," DeBoer said. "We'll see how everybody is tomorrow."

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.

Melker Karlsson, who skated on the fourth line in Game 2, took Hertl's place at left wing on the top line with center Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Karlsson skated for a few games with Thornton and Pavelski earlier this season and spent time with them last season as a rookie.

However, it's unclear whether Karlsson would actually skate on the top line if Hertl can't play. DeBoer would have other options, including Patrick Marleau.

Video: Practice 6/3: DeBoer

"They haven't played with that many other guys on our team this year," Karlsson said of Thornton and Pavelski. "If they want to throw me in there, I'm ready for it. I'm ready to go."

Dainius Zubrus, who came out of the lineup for Game 2, skated on the fourth line and expects to play in Game 3.

"I skated there like I'm going to be playing [Saturday]," Zubrus said.

Zubrus said the Sharks have enough depth to survive if Hertl can't play.

"Melker, he has played with the big guys," Zubrus said. "He's done well. It is what it is. They have [Trevor] Daley missing, who's a big piece, a good defenseman for them. You go this hard for two months, bumps and bruises, they kind of add up and sometimes you're going to be missing guys. That's hockey. That's playoffs."

DeBoer juggled his bottom three lines at the start of the third period in San Jose's 2-1 overtime loss in Game 2. His biggest moves were switching third-line wing Joel Ward to the second line and dropping Marleau from second-line wing to third-line center.

Ward and Marleau returned to their previous spots for practice, and the second and third lines were the same as they were for the start of Game 2.

Video: Practice 6/3: Ward

"We were down a [goal]," Ward said. "I think coach was just trying to shuffle things up a little bit. It worked a lot the last game, but I've been playing with these guys for a while. We'll get back together and get back to work. We've had some success together as well. I think just in a game when you're down, you're just trying to mix things up a little bit. I think it's just a temporary thing."

Defenseman Justin Braun scored the game-tying goal at 15:55 of the third period, with Ward providing a screen.

Braun left the Sharks after Game 2 to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, former NHL player Tom Lysiak, on Thursday near. Braun flew to San Francisco that night and arrived at his San Jose-area home by midnight. He was on the ice for practice Friday.

"I feel all right," Braun said. "Got some good sleep last night. It's kind of like our schedule out here anyway. During the regular season you're getting in 3 or 4 in the morning. Sometimes you've got back-to-backs. You're kind of used to that grind. It is what it is. You got to do that. It was good."

Third-line wing Matt Nieto returned to the lineup for Game 2 after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. He had no setbacks.

"I felt really good," Nieto said. "I felt a lot better than I thought I would. When you miss that long it's hard to get right back into it and have your legs feeling good and your timing and everything. It was a good transition. I felt really good, up to speed. Legs felt good."

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