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Stanley Cup Final

Nick Bonino of Penguins practices, hopes to play in Game 4

Injured center aims to return against Predators on Monday

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

NASHVILLE -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino has an improved chance to play in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators after taking part in practice at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday.

Game 4 is here Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports). Pittsburgh has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Bonino missed Game 3, a 5-1 loss, after blocking a shot with his left foot in the first period of Game 2. He finished the game, but was not able to practice Thursday or Friday. He was in a walking boot and using crutches Friday and Saturday.

He was still in the boot, and on crutches, when he arrived with the Penguins for practice Sunday.

 

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Bonino took the ice before the majority of his teammates, talked to a member of the training staff and then left the ice. He returned for the actual practice, taking his normal place on the second power-play unit during a practice that focused on improving Pittsburgh's man-advantage play.

"It felt OK," said Bonino, who usually plays center on the third line. "It's not fun. Day-to-day. We'll see what happens [Monday]. I just wanted to get out there and try to move it a little bit."

Bonino, who has four goals and three assists for seven points in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, was able to get through practice but there were signs he was still laboring through the injury. Starts, stops and pivots were the most difficult. He said it was easier once he got moving at a higher speed.

Bonino knows Monday will tell the tale when he sees the effect of putting some stress on the injury by skating Sunday. He insists he won't campaign to play unless he feels he can help.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Bonino banks goal in off defender

"If I don't think or the coaches and trainers don't think I will help the team, I won't be out there," he said. "You have to be honest this time of year. If you go in, you have to assume you're playing the whole game. That is the mindset we have always had here.

"You want your team to win. So, if [the injury] is not good, you don't do it. If it is in a position to be played on and you can help the team, we will. We all know the stakes, so we are not going to make bad decisions."

Bonino was injured when a shot by Predators defenseman P.K. Subban hit him in the leg. Bonino had to be helped off the ice, but he returned for the second period and finished the game. He had 16:06 of ice time in a 4-1 win that gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead in the series.

"We put a little work into in the [dressing room]," he said. "It wasn't feeling great right away, but we were able to make it feel better and I just tried to finish and help the team."

In Game 3, Bonino was replaced by Carl Hagelin, who had not played in the first two games of the Final and has been battling injuries of his own throughout the postseason. He has missed nine of the 21 playoff games Pittsburgh has played. Hagelin had two shots on goal, two other shot attempts and blocked two shots. His speed, one of his trademarks, was evident throughout.

"I felt good; I had some chances early on and our line had some good shifts. But at the end of the day, we lost the game," Hagelin said.

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