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Patric Hornqvist could miss Game 3 for Penguins against Capitals

Forward Tom Kuhnhackl, defenseman Ron Hainsey also injured, will be evaluated upon return to Pittsburgh

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist could be unavailable against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.

Hornqvist, who played right wing alongside center Sidney Crosby, left Game 2 after blocking a shot from Capitals defenseman John Carlson off his leg with 4:18 remaining in the first period. Defenseman Ron Hainsey, who was hit in the side of the head with a shot from Washington forward Alex Ovechkin in the third period, and forward Tom Kuhnhackl each also left the game with an apparent injury.
Coach Mike Sullivan said Sunday that the injured players would be evaluated when the Penguins arrive in Pittsburgh. No further update was provided.

Hornqvist normally serves as Pittsburgh's net-front presence on its top power-play unit. His willingness to get in front of shots, in the offensive and defensive zones, has become his defining characteristic during his three seasons with the Penguins.

Sullivan appreciates that part of Hornqvist's game and would never ask him, or any other player, to shy away from blocking a shot despite the risk of injury.

"I don't know that you'll find a coach in the [NHL] that's going to say, 'Don't get in the shot lanes, don't block a shot and just let the puck get to the front of our net,' and expect to win hockey games," Sullivan said. "I think in order to win hockey games, especially at this time of year, teams have to pay a price. Part of that price is getting in shot lanes."

Pittsburgh blocked 33 shots Saturday, two days after it blocked 29 in Game 1. Though Sullivan appreciates the sacrifice his players have made to limit Washington's scoring chances, he would like to see those numbers decrease.

"Do we want our guys to be in lanes and blocking shots as often as we have in the early part of this series? No, we prefer not to," Sullivan said. "Having said that, if we're defending in our end zone, part of the strategy of defending is trying to make sure you deny opportunities for the puck to get to the scoring areas.

"I give our players a whole lot of credit because I think they're committed to winning. They're willing to pay a price to not allow those pucks to get to our net or get to our scoring areas."

With Hornqvist out of the lineup, forward Conor Sheary moved back to first-line right wing, where he played throughout the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hornqvist took over at that position in Game 1 of the second round.

Hornqvist has five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Sheary has two assists in the playoffs after scoring 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 61 games during his second NHL season. In 23 games last postseason, he had 10 points (four goals, six assists), which included two goals in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

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