Game 3: PENGUINS at SHARKS
Stanley Cup Final
Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 2-0
TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks will be without injured first-line left wing Tomas Hertl for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center on Saturday.
Hertl will miss the game with a lower-body injury.
"He's out tonight," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after San Jose's optional skate. "He's arguably been our best player through the first two games. Injuries are no excuse this time of year. We've got someone that will go in for him, and we'll roll out there and be ready to play."
Dainius Zubrus, a healthy scratch in Game 2, will replace Hertl in the lineup and will likely skate on the fourth line. Melker Karlsson is expected to move from the fourth line to the top line and take Hertl's spot with center Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. That's the way the Sharks lined up for practice Friday.
"We've got a couple guys that have played in that role before," DeBoer said. "Melker has before and so has Zubrus. I think the one thing with those two guys, you've got a guy that will hound the puck and work for it. [Thornton and Pavelski] take care of the rest. I think we've got a lot of options because of who we're sticking them in with. I think it should be fairly seamless."
Hertl has six goals and five assists during the playoffs. Against Pittsburgh, he scored a power-play goal in Game 1 and hit the post three times during Game 2.
"He's been a big, big part of this team, especially the second half," Pavelski said. "You saw the smile on his face the last few rounds. He's really enjoyed playing, and he brings that energy. It's tough to miss a guy like that if you have to, but somebody steps in. We've done it. We've done it for a while. We still expect a good effort from whoever comes in in a big role. We haven't had a ton of injuries, so there's been somebody waiting and ready to step in."
Center Logan Couture said he has been impressed by Hertl throughout the playoffs.
"I've seen what he's been all playoffs: strong, a big body, he protects the puck," Couture said. "He's gotten some opportunities. Obviously, last game he hit three posts. He's developed into a very good player.
"I don't think players who haven't seen him much realize how strong he is until you run into him and you realize he's over 220 pounds. He's a big body for a kid, really."
The Penguins have a chance to push San Jose to the brink of elimination, but they know it's dangerous to look too far ahead.
"I think everyone's aware of the situation," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "I mean, to say that we're not thinking about it, it's true to a certain extent, but I think you are aware. You understand where you are in the timeline of a seven-game series, the situation as far as how many wins you have.
"But I don't think you can let that dictate how you play, can't let that dictate how you're going to approach the game. I think that once you take your foot off the gas, once you kind of exhale and say, 'Hey, we have a two-game lead, we only have to win two more out of the next five, that will be easy, no problem,' that's where you really get into trouble."
Here are the projected lineups:
Conor Sheary - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Ben Lovejoy
Ian Cole - Justin Schultz
Injured: Kevin Porter (ankle surgery), Scott Wilson (lower body), Trevor Daley (ankle)
Scratched: Jeff Zatkoff, Derrick Pouliot, Oskar Sundqvist, Beau Bennett, Kael Mouillierat, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Daniel Sprong, Tristan Jarry
Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi
Matt Nieto - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward
Dainius Zubrus - Nick Spaling - Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Paul Martin - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak
Injured: Tomas Hertl (lower body)
Scratched: Micheal Haley, Dylan DeMelo
Status report: Based on their line rushes from practice on Friday, the Sharks will open the game with the same second and third lines they had for the first two periods of Game 2. If they struggle early, DeBoer could move Ward up to the second line and have Marleau center the third line, as he did in the third period of Game 2. ... The Penguins aren't expected to make any changes to a lineup that produced victories in the first two games against San Jose.
Who's hot: Sheary had a goal in each of the first two games against San Jose, including the game-winner in overtime in Game 2. ... Bonino had the game-winning goal in Game 1 against San Jose and an assist in Game 2. ... Couture has a four-game point streak with a goal and five assists.