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Sharks' Nieto could return for Game 1 of Cup Final

Forward practices for second straight day; Sharks prepare for Penguins

by Eric Gilmore / NHL. com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Matt Nieto, who missed the past seven Stanley Cup Playoff games with an upper-body injury, practiced for a second straight day Saturday and could return for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; CBC, NBC, TVA Sports).

"I'll know more by Monday, but I'd anticipate that he'd be available," coach Peter DeBoer said before the Sharks traveled to Pittsburgh.

DeBoer had a quick answer when asked what Nieto would bring to lineup if he plays in Game 1.

"He brings speed," DeBoer said. "He's one of our faster forwards. He's another guy that gives us a little bit of a different dimension and a little bit of a different element."

Nieto didn't skate on one of the top four lines Saturday, and it's unclear whether he would play in Game 1 even if he were medically cleared. DeBoer rarely changes his lineup after victories, and the Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-2 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday.

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm5: Nieto scores off of Ward's feed

Nieto was skating on the third line at left wing before he was injured early in Game 6 against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Second Round when he crashed into the net on a rush.

Nieto has one goal and two assists in 11 playoff games this season, after scoring eight goals and nine assists in 67 regular-season games.

With or without Nieto, the Sharks will have to contend with one of the League's fastest teams.

"I think we take a lot of pride in taking away time and space from good players and from fast players," DeBoer said. "It's a great challenge for us."

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