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Penguins notebook: Bonino says his face is feeling 'all right'

| Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 7:54 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Columbus' Jack Johnson (right) has been among the best blue-line scoring threats in playoff history.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Nick Bonino wins a face-off against the Blue Jackets' Sam Gagner in the first period Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at Nationwide Arena.

COLUMBUS, Ohio ­­— There are glamorous parts to Nick Bonino's job.

Take the second round of last year's playoffs for example. He scored the overtime goal in a clinching Game 6 victory for the Penguins over the Washington Capitals, then became a household name in the hockey world thanks to the popular Punjabi television call of the play.

Most days, though, are nothing like that.

Most days, he's in the trenches, playing the thankless two-way game that has made him an important part of the Penguins lineup, and that includes blocking shots.

This season, Bonino led all NHL forwards with 99 blocks. In his career, counting regular season and playoffs, he has stepped in front of 515 pucks.

“Hope it hits you in the right spot,” Bonino said when asked for his philosophy on shot blocking. “You add protection to some of your equipment — shin guards, pads, stuff like that — but at the end of the day, you hope one doesn't deflect up into your face or hit you in the meat of your thigh or something like that. If it does, it does.”

It did in Game 3 of a first-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night. Bonino took a deflected puck to his right cheek, and he played the bulk of that game as well as Tuesday's Game 4 wearing a plastic chin guard affixed to his helmet.

Bonino said his face was feeling “all right” before faceoff Tuesday. He said he got used to the chin guard in no time at all.

He also gave credit to a piece of protective equipment that might have prevented his injury from being worse.

“My beard helped me a little bit, maybe,” he joked.

0-3 memories

A comeback from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series is one of the rarest accomplishments in sports.

Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin was part of one during his time in the AHL.

In the second round of the 2013 playoffs, Dumoulin and his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teammates dropped the first three games to the Providence Bruins, then roared back to win the series.

The keys to the comeback? Goalie Brad Thiessen stepped in for Jeff Zatkoff and played some of the best hockey of his career, and Providence lost defenseman Torey Krug and a couple of other key players because of injury or call-up.

Dumoulin was an integral part of the comeback, too. He had a goal and two assists in a 4-0 victory in Game 5 and another goal in a 2-1 overtime win in Game 6.

“Obviously, we were concerned we were down 3-0, but in Game 3, we took it to them and we were playing good hockey,” Dumoulin said. “We just needed to focus on one game. That's what you always need to do, whether you're down 3-0 or up 3-0.”

Lineup notes

The Blue Jackets made a handful of lineup changes for Game 4.

Forwards Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak and defensemen Kyle Quincey and Markus Nutivaara were in. Forwards Scott Hartnell and Sonny Milano and defensemen Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski were out.

Calvert was back after serving a one-game suspension for a cross-check to Tom Kuhnhackl in Game 2. Sedlak played his first game since March 31. He was out with an upper-body injury.

Injury report

Coach Mike Sullivan said he had no update on any of his team's players out with lower-body injuries. Wingers Carl Hagelin and Chris Kunitz have resumed skating. There is no timetable for goalie Matt Murray's return.

“There's nothing pending that I can offer you that's a significant update other than they're rehabbing and they're working towards getting back into our lineup,” Sullivan said.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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