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Stanley Cup Final

Nick Bonino of Penguins could miss Game 3 of Final against Predators

Pittsburgh center on crutches, said to be game-time decision

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino will be a game-time decision for 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).

Bonino was seen using crutches and wearing a walking boot when the Penguins arrived in Nashville on Friday. He was the only player who didn't skate during Pittsburgh's practice Friday, its first since winning Game 2 4-1 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Before departing, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Bonino was day to day with a lower-body injury.

"Everybody will be a game-time decision," Sullivan said when asked if Bonino could play Saturday.

During a Nashville 5-on-3 power play midway through the first period of Game 2, Predators defenseman P.K. Subban took a slap shot that hit Bonino's left leg. Bonino fell to the ice, and trainers had to help him to the locker room while he attempted to put as little pressure as possible on his leg.

Bonino, the Penguins' third-line center, missed the final 9:26 of the first period but returned for the start of the second. He played 16:06 on 25 shifts Wednesday.

Video: Nick Bonino on having Stanley Cup Final experience

"[Bonino] is a huge part of everything we do," center Matt Cullen said. "We all hope he's ready to go and if not, then we're going to have to fill a big hole."

Through 21 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bonino has seven points (four goals, three assists). In 24 playoff games last year, he had 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) while centering the "HBK Line" between left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Phil Kessel.

If Bonino can't play, Carter Rowney, a 28-year-old rookie who has three assists in 16 playoff games, would likely be elevated to third-line center between left wing Scott Wilson and right wing Conor Sheary.

Hagelin, who has been a healthy scratch for the past two games, could enter the lineup at the fourth-line left wing next to Cullen at center and right wing Patric Hornqvist. Hagelin has one goal in 11 games since returning April 29 from a lower-body injury, which caused him to miss 22 games.

"I think every time the game starts and you're not out there, you're going to be [ticked] off," Hagelin said. "It doesn't do you any good being [ticked] off on a day like this. You've got to go out there and do whatever you can to make you better and to make you prepared for whatever's thrown at you.

"If you get in [Saturday], I have to be ready to play. No one's going to feel sorry for me and I don't feel sorry for myself."

Video: Michelle McMahon on the Penguins going to Nashville

Forward Jake Guentzel centered the second-power play unit with Bonino absent, along with Sheary, forward Chris Kunitz and defensemen Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta.

The Penguins also adjusted their defense pairs by moving Justin Schultz next to Maatta and Daley alongside Ian Cole. Schultz had been paired with Cole while Maatta was with Daley, who said the Penguins' depth has been beneficial offensively and defensively.

"You want to have the variety of being able to change things up and have success with it," Daley said. "I think it's never a bad thing to have that option."

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