Penguins notebook: Goc appears to be nearing a return

| Friday, April 25, 2014, 5:42 p.m.

Center Marcel Goc on Friday practiced with teammates for a third consecutive day, centering a fourth line that included forwards Tanner Glass and Craig Adams.

Goc, who has missed the past 12 games with a foot injury, proclaimed himself healthy enough to return for Saturday's Game 5 at Consol Energy Center but said that decision would be left to the coaches.

“It definitely feels good,” Goc said. “Being out there with the guys, it's a little different than skating by myself. It was good. We'll see if (coach Dan Bylsma) puts me in or not.”

Goc, acquired from Florida on March 5 for a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 and a third-rounder in 2015, contributed two assists in 12 games prior to getting hurt.

Goc's possible return pushed winger Joe Vitale to the third line. Vitale played right wing on a line that included center Brandon Sutter and left wing Beau Bennett.

If Goc plays, he and his linemates will be counted upon to give the Penguins a physical edge. Through four games, Columbus holds a 215-124 advantage in hits.

“We want to make sure we play physical and get on the forecheck,” Goc said. “If we chip in a goal, I think it would be a big help for the team. Be physical, be tough to play against and get the other team off their game.”

Glass spoke as though Goc's return was imminent.

“He's a smart player,” Glass said. “He's really strong on the puck, a defensive center. So I would imagine they'll use him on the left side of the ice in the defensive zone a lot of the time for faceoffs.”

Fleury's side of the story

Hindsight is 20/20, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. Especially when there's video evidence.

“I think it's easy when you watch the video in slow motion. It's easy to know it's the wrong play if the puck goes in the net,” Fleury said of his much-scrutinized misplay that preceded Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky's tying goal late in Game 4. “The puck was coming, and I thought I could stop it, pick it up and get the puck out of the zone pretty quick. The puck took a bad bounce.”

Fleury said he doesn't follow a rule for when to play a puck or let it go. Bylsma said Thursday that because the puck touched the glass, Fleury should have let it go.

“I don't think there's a strict rule,” Fleury said. “Different guys do different things. The boards are different. The puck was coming pretty slow. Usually the puck dies down. I don't know why, but it took a funny bounce.”

Orpik leaves practice

Defenseman Brooks Orpik left Friday's practice before it was half over. Robert Bortuzzo took Orpik's place.

Typically tight-lipped about potential injuries and player updates, Bylsma began his post-practice remarks to the media by saying, “No injury updates for our team.”

Kunitz appears OK

Two days after taking a slash to the hand during Game 4, winger Chris Kunitz went through a full practice at his normal spot on the top line and No. 1 power-play unit.

Kunitz finished Wednesday's game, and he was not visibly affected by any injury at practice. Like with Orpik, Bylsma didn't discuss Kunitz's status.

“Don't know what you're talking about,” he said with a smile.

Game 4 ratings soar

The Root Sports telecast of Game 4 had a 16.64 rating regionally, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is the second-highest rating of the series. About 520,000 average viewers watched Game 4.

Jason Mackey and Chris Adamski are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Mackey at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib and Adamski at or @C_AdamskiTrib.

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