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Inside Scoop: Practice notes, Johnson reacts and more

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' Thursday afternoon practice at NYCB Live…

* The Pens had full attendance at practice on Thursday. That's a good sign on several fronts. 

Defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Erik Gudbranson both left for a stretch in Game 1, but were able to return to game action. There is always the chance of an issue flaring up post-game. The fact that Dumoulin and Gudbranson were able to have a full practice Thursday is a sign that they have no issues heading into Game 2. 

Dumoulin returned from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss the last three games of the regular season. His return seemed short lived after he fell awkwardly to the ice during the first period of Game 1. He was slow to get up and went to the locker room, but returned later in the period. 

"It was a weird first period for me personally," he said. "Throughout the game I started getting some more confidence. I'll have to bring it a little more in Game 2."

Gudbranson was tripped while attempting to retrieve a puck in the defensive zone during the third period. New York's Anders Lee knocked out his skates and Gudbranson crashed feet first into the boards. His ankle appeared to take the brunt of the fall. 

Gudbranson, who played an incredible game, remained off the ice for some time. He went immediately to the locker room, but returned minutes later. 

Jared McCann also took some punishment. He was slashed and cross-checked from behind at the crease by Cal Clutterbuck. He skated to the bench hunched over, but was able to remain in the game. McCann also practiced Thursday.

* Judging by practice, the Pens look like they'll use the same lineup from Game 1. After the conclusion of the practice session, forward Teddy Blueger, defensemen Jack Johnson and Zach Trotman, and goaltenders Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry remained on the ice for an extended time long after the rest of the team had gone. 

Typically the scratches will spend extra time on the ice after the regular group finishes since they won't be playing. It helps keep their conditioning on par with the game group. 

* If the Pens do use the same lineup, that means Johnson will be the odd man out once again. He was a healthy scratch in Game 1 despite appearing in all 82 games during the regular season. 

"Coach said I'm playing well and I've done everything they've asked of me. They just had to make a decision," Johnson told Jonathan Bombulie of the Tribune-Review

Head coach Mike Sullivan echoed that sentiment while addressing the media following the game. 

"It's a very difficult decision. We talked about it for a week," Sullivan said. "Jack played a lot of great hockey for us. I told him he's going to be a big part of it moving forward. He's such a great teammate. He took it really well. He'll be ready for us. And I know he's going to help us win."

* The Pens preached about being smart and patient against the Islanders heading into the series. And for the most part they succeeded in that endeavor. 

However, it was a turnover in overtime that led to New York's game-winning goal. Defenseman Kris Letang carried the puck into the Islanders' zone before losing it. New York countered with a 2-on-1 the other way and converted its chance for the win. 

"I got in the middle. I was the first guy on the rush," Letang said of the play. "I just lost control when I tried to pull up. I was trying to put myself into a shot position. But when I pulled it back I lost it."

* NYCB Live (Nassau Coliseum) was every bit as loud and intense of an atmosphere as expected. From the moment the puck dropped until the overtime winner, the building was electric. 

"They had a lot of energy. Their crowd was roaring," Bryan Rust said. "They're flying around hitting everything. It's nothing that we haven't seen before. It was cool. This building was rocking. It's playoff time. You expect every building to be rocking."

The Pens seemed to be overwhelmed at the start of the game and on their heels. But as the game continued, Pittsburgh showed some pushback and was able to steal some momentum. 

"It's fun for everyone," forward Nick Bjugstad said. "You can't even call for the puck it's so loud. It's so loud it's crazy. The first few shifts is as loud as it can be." 

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