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Stanley Cup Final

Nick Bonino of Penguins may sit out Game 3 of Final against Predators

Pittsburgh center will be game-time decision after blocking shot with leg Wednesday

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NASHVILLE -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino, who arrived here on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his left foot, skipped the morning skate but could play in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said a decision on Bonino's status and who might replace him in the lineup won't be made until closer to game time.

Bonino was injured in the first period of Game 2 on Wednesday when a shot by Predators defenseman P.K. Subban hit him in the leg. Bonino had to be helped off the ice but returned for the second period and finished the game playing 25 shifts totaling 16:06 of ice time in a 4-1 win that gave the Penguins a 2-0 win in the best-of-7 series.

Bonino didn't practice Friday and was seen on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

Forward Carl Hagelin, who since 2012 leads the NHL in Stanley Cup Playoff games played with 108, is the likely candidate to go into the lineup if Bonino can't play. Hagelin was scratched for the first two games of the series but played left wing on a line with Matt Cullen and Patric Hornqvist at practice Friday.

Video: Mike Rupp and Kevin Weekes on Nick Bonino's injury

Hagelin said he didn't know if he was in the lineup when asked after the morning skate, but he came off the ice with the rest of the players who are expected to play. He had been staying on the ice for extra work with the scratches in prior morning skates during this series.

"We have no qualms of putting a guy like [Hagelin] in our lineup," Sullivan said. "We know he's a quality player. We just have difficult lineup decisions, as we have here throughout the course of this playoffs. Certainly if he is a guy that goes in the lineup, we know he can help us win."

Hagelin missed the last 16 games of the regular season and the first six in the playoffs with a lower-body injury. He missed two more games because of the injury before playing Games 2-7 against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Final.


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Hagelin, who is known for his speed, said he feels good and is ready to go. He also said he thinks his speed, especially on the forecheck, can help the Penguins against the Predators. If he plays, he'll also likely resume his role on the penalty kill.

"Their [defensemen] are very mobile, so if you can get in on the forecheck and try to spend as much time as possible in their zone it'd be beneficial for our team," Hagelin said. "If I'm out there that's what I'll try to do, use my speed as much as possible to create turnovers and also backcheck."

Carter Rowney is the likely candidate to move to center if Bonino can't play. Rowney has been playing on the wing for the majority of the playoffs but is a natural center. He was centering a line with Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson in practice Friday.

"If I'm going to play center I am pretty comfortable there," Rowney said. "I've played that most of my career and that's more my natural position. I'm sure there will be some adjustments early on in the game that I'll really have to focus on because there are a couple tweaks you've got to make, the role is a little different, but it's a natural position for me and I'm pretty comfortable there."

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