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Penguins' Kunitz game-time decision

Pittsburgh forward hit in ear by puck during Game 1 against Washington

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz will be a game-time decision for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Kunitz took part in the morning skate.

"He's feeling better," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

Kunitz was injured 33 seconds into overtime of Game 1 on Thursday when he was struck above the left ear by a puck while sitting on the bench. He went to the locker room and went through concussion protocol testing.

The Capitals scored the winning goal at 9:33 of overtime, by T.J. Oshie. Kunitz said he was being evaluated at the time and didn't have a chance to get back in the game before the goal. He said he had a small cut above the left ear that bled but didn't require stitches.

Kunitz did not practice Friday. Sullivan called it a "fluke incident" and said Kunitz was fortunate the injury wasn't severe.

Video: Chris Kunitz talks to reporters before Game 2 in DC

"I just tried to turn and avoid the puck and it found its way up my ear," Kunitz said.

Kunitz was not wearing ear guards on his helmet, a reason he was cut. He had ear guards on his helmet Saturday morning and will be wearing them in the game if he plays.

The only Penguins players who already wear ear guards are centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Ear guards come attached to helmets when players receive them, but they are not mandatory pieces of equipment so players can ask to have them removed.

If Kunitz is unable to play, Sullivan could insert center Oscar Sundqvist into the lineup, or he could opt to use 11 forwards and seven defensemen, as he did in Game 1 of the first round against the New York Rangers, when defenseman Justin Schultz was in the lineup.

Schultz has been a healthy scratch for the past five games. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot has not played in the playoffs.

Sullivan said Beau Bennett, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury but is skating, is not healthy enough to play.

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