Penguins notebook: Nick Bonino returns for practice
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Though clearly uncomfortable at times on the ice because of his lower-body injury, Penguins center Nick Bonino gritted his way through the bulk of a full-team practice Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.
Bonino suffered the injury when he blocked a P.K. Subban slap shot in the first period of Game 2 on Wednesday, though he managed to return for the second period of that game and finished with more than 15 minutes of ice time. He missed practice Friday and did not participate in Saturday's morning skate or dress for Game 3. But he took the ice before the Penguins' workout started Sunday, briefly left, and then came back to go through several drills, including power-play work with the second unit.
His discomfort became most apparent when he tried to turn or push off with his left foot. After the practice, Bonino sat silent for several seconds before eventually describing his condition as “OK.” He did not rule himself out for Monday's Game 4.
“I think it's not fun, but it's day-to-day,” Bonino said. “We'll see what happens (Monday). It was fun to get out there and try to move it a little bit.
“At the end of the day, if it's not great, you don't do it. If it's in a position to be played on and help the team, then we will. We all know the stakes here. I'm not going to make bad decisions at this time of year.”
During the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, Bonino played through an elbow infection that came with a 101-degree fever and required almost daily treatment. He barely practiced during that series but did not miss any of the six games against the Sharks.
“If I don't think and the coaches and trainers don't think I could help the team, I wouldn't be out there,” Bonino said. “You've got to be honest at this time of year. If you go in, you're going to assume you're playing the whole game. That's the mindset we've always had here.”
How Bonino completed Game 2 with the lower-body ailment remains somewhat unclear.
“We did a little work to it in the back,” he said. “It wasn't feeling great right away, but we were able to make it feel better.”
After allowing two power-play goals for the second time in three games against Nashville, the Penguins' penalty killers vowed to tighten up their efforts to shut down the Predators' playmakers at the blueline. Both goals with the man advantage for Nashville in Game 3 came from defensemen (Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi). In Game 1 — another two-for-three performance — Ryan Ellis scored one, and the other was a Josi shot that deflected off of center Colton Sissons' pads.
“They didn't do anything that we didn't expect. They executed a couple plays,” winger Carter Rowney said.
Rowney got a piece of Josi's Game 3 power-play goal, and the deflection caught goalie Matt Murray by surprise.
“A millimeter more, and then it misses the net, right?” Rowney said of his attempted shot block. “Murr and I talked about it after. That's just how it goes. I'm so close to getting that block, and I'm trying to get that block for him. That's just a bounce that doesn't go our way.”
The party atmosphere within a few-block radius of Bridgestone Arena is a boon for the Nashville chamber of commerce and the revelers who enjoy a good time, but it will make things a little more difficult for the Penguins during their four-day stay in Tennessee.
Olli Maatta said players made a concerted effort to find an out-of-the-way restaurant for dinner Friday night.
“Just trying to stay out of Broadway and the mix,” Maatta said. “Going for dinner, try to be somewhere quiet where you can be by yourself and mind your own business. But it's awesome. It's awesome to see how crazy this city is.”